The best ways to beat seasonal flu
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza, commonly called "the flu," is very contagious and tends to circulate during the fall, winter and early spring.
Some seasons are worse in terms of the number of people catching the flu, and some viruses are more virulent. This means that while not very many people may get very ill during years with a mild flu season, many people may get quite ill during the years with a more severe flu season.
Most young, healthy people can fight off the flu on their own, but very young children, older adults and those with compromised immune systems are at risk for serious complications that may lead to death. For this reason, it is important for everyone to do his or her part in preventing the spread of influenza.
The most effective way to prevent influenza, according to the New York City government, is to get your annual flu shot. This vaccine is manufactured each year in response to the strains of the flu that experts feel are mostly likely to circulate. The vaccine is available as an injection and also as a nasal mist.
Your Boston doctor can advise you as to whether you are a good candidate for receiving an influenza vaccination and, if so, which type you should receive.
Other than getting your flu shot, there are several things that you can do to prevent the spread of the flu. First, practice good hygiene.
The CDC recommends taking measures such as covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, washing your hands frequently, and avoiding contact between your hands and your mucous membranes. If you do become sick, avoid contact with others.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, wearing a face mask may help prevent transmission among family members. This may be worth considering, particularly if you have member of your household who is immune system is or has been compromised.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has compiled a list of natural remedies that some people use to try to prevent the flu. They do point out that none of these have been studied at length, and that they may or may not be effective.
These remedies include vitamin C, vitamin D, echinacea, ginseng, green tea, oscillococcinum and elderberry. Because natural remedies can interact with other medications that you are taking and may exacerbate conditions that you already have, always check with your doctor before taking any herbs or other remedies to prevent the flu.
Before the start of the flu season, see your doctor to discuss ways that you can prevent getting the flu. This is especially important if you have health conditions that would predispose you to becoming more ill than the average person. Follow your doctor's recommendations carefully to increase your chances of staying well this flu season.