Ways to Avoid the Flu

Flu prevention is an important thing to consider when you're trying to stay healthy — especially during flu season. Common sense tells us that flu prevention should be easy as 1-2-3. So how can you prevent the flu? Read on for some great flu prevention tips.

  • Get a flu shot, particularly if you are 50 or over or have a chronic illness. In addition, consider a flu shot if you are in regular contact with many people, especially if you live in a dormitory or work in an open-plan office, where hundreds of people are coughing and sneezing in a common area.
  • Discuss with your pediatrician whether to immunize your youngsters in daycare. One recent study found that families whose children in daycare were immunized had 42% fewer infections with fever than those whose children weren't immunized.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. A quick rinse won't do the trick. To kill germs, communicative disease experts recommend washing with soap for 15 to 30 seconds-about as long as it takes to hum a rollicking verse of "Yankee Doodle Dandy."
  • Keep your hands away from your face to reduce the chance of delivering viruses directly to your eyes or nose. One study found that people typically touched their face fifteen times in an hour.
  • Make certain you're getting your RDA for vitamin E and other antioxidants including A, C and B-complex vitamins and minerals. These have properties that enhance immune response. Studies on older mice have shown that those with reduced levels of vitamin E were more susceptible to flu infection.
  • Don't smoke. Smoke paralyzes the cilia, the hairlike cells lining the nose and airways that sweep incoming viruses away before they can infect.
  • Use tissues, not cloth handkerchiefs, to reduce spread of infection.
  • Reduce stress. Research has shown that immune responses are compromised by stress.
  • Get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Chronic sleep deprivation can reduce your immune response.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption. Chronic heavy drinkers suffer from more colds and flu-and their complications-than others do, and even regular moderate use of alcohol can compromise immune response.

For more information, see 14 Home Remedies for the Flu and learn about the influenza vaccine.