How to avoid flu

By Hannah Gibson

Although there’s no way to guarantee you won’t get flu this year, I’ve rounded up the best tips to try and fight off the infection before it gets going.

The CBC reports that 3,500 Canadians die of the flu each year and 12,200 are hospitalized, making it one of the 10 leading causes of death in this country. This sounds scary, but for most people it will be a few days of feeling feverish, achey and congested.

It can still have a significant impact on your work and home life though, so its important to do everything you can to try and reduce your risk.

Get your flu shot!

Getting the shot will encourage your body to make antibodies that can protect you against any further exposure to the virus.

The shot shouldn’t make you feel unwell, and if it does make you feel a little under the weather for a day, its still better than getting the full blown flu.

Visit this website to find out if you’re eligible for a free shot, and where to purchase it if not. Its available from more public health clinic, some doctor’s offices and most pharmacies.

For more information, check: https://immunizebc.ca/clinics/flu

Wash your hands!

Hand washing is one of the most important things you can do to prevent getting flu. Over the course of the day, you touch surfaces, objects and people – all of which might have the virus on them.

Although you won’t get sick from just touching the virus, if you spread it to your mouth and nose, there’s a chance you could.

Wash your hands regularly with soap, especially before eating, and try not to touch your face.

Clean communal surfaces at least once a day

The flu virus can remain viable on a surface for about 24 hours. Wipe down the surfaces in your house with a disinfectant spray, especially if someone in the house has flu.

Think about the surfaces and objects that get touched the most — phone chargers, fridge handles, light switches.

Steer clear of a sick partner

You might love them, but make sure you limit physical contact with a partner who has flu. They should sleep on their own pillow, as this is another surface that can hold the virus, and keep cuddling to a minimum.

If you’re serious about not getting flu, consider wearing surgical gloves when caring for them, and sleeping in separate rooms if that’s a possibility.

Stay healthy!

Getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet is crucial to staying well in the winter months.

Although it might not stop you getting flu, if you’re generally healthy, you’re much more likely to get over it quickly, and with less serious symptoms. You should get seven to nine hours sleep a night, and eating a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables and fibre.

Getting out to exercise is also really important in maintaining your health and wellbeing – just remember to wrap up warm.

Taking these precautions will minimize your risk of getting flu, and should make it easier if you do catch it.

There’s limited research on the use of cold and flu medications, and I find that supportive measures such as a mug of warm honey and lemon, a hot bath and a day of Netflix in bed are just as good as any medication you can get in the pharmacy.

If you are suffering from more severe symptoms or you know that your considered at a high risk of complications, get an appointment with your family doctor.

Let me know what tips and tricks you have for avoiding flu, or helping to get over it as quickly as possible. Wishing you all a healthy and happy winter season.

Hannah Gibson s a student doctor, originally from the U.K. Through her years at medical school, she's worked in every department from pediatrics through to geriatrics, advocating for both physical and mental health. She's passionate about preventative medicine, and helping people to live happy and healthy lives.


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