10 Ways to Protect Yourself from the Flu

The dog days of summer have given way to the changing leaves and cooler nights of autumn, and pretty soon the winter season will be here in earnest. That winter weather will bring snowstorms and icy roadways, but there is another danger lurking behind the scenes.

The winter season is also prime time for the flu, and every year thousands of people die from the disease. And while many of those deaths are related to compromised immune systems and underlying illnesses, influenza can also be deadly for those who are in otherwise perfect health.

So before flu season arrives, it is important to protect yourself whenever and however you can. Here are 10 ways to protect yourself this flu season.

  1. Get a flu shot. It may not provide perfect immunity, but a flu shot is an essential first line of defense. Get your annual flu shot early in the season, so you can enjoy long-lasting protection.
  2. Wash your hands often. Hand washing is a vital line of defense, not only against the flu but for the common cold and other illnesses as well. Wash your hands several times a day, using soap and hot water.
  3. Eat a healthy diet. The healthier you are, the easier it will be for your body to fight off the flu. You should always eat a healthy diet, but taking good care of yourself is even more critical during flu season.
  4. Get plenty of exercise. Regular exercise can also boost your immune system and improve your overall health. Flu season gives you another excuse to hit the gym, so grab your workout clothes and get going.
  5. Quarantine yourself. If friends or family members are sick with the flu, put yourself in quarantine. Isolating yourself from flu sufferers will reduce your chances of catching the disease.
  6. Avoid touching your mouth and nose. Those airborne flu particles must enter your body before they can make you sick. Touching your hands to your nose and mouth could give the flu virus a way in, so keep your hands at your side – and wash them often.
  7. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. It is easy for infection to spread during flu season, so protect yourself and others by covering your mouth and nose.
  8. Track the spread of the flu. Once the flu begins to spread, it can move quickly, so keep your eyes open and watch for updates from the CDC and other governmental agencies. If the flu is widespread where you live, it is time to redouble your efforts to stay well.
  9. Get plenty of sleep. Insomnia can sap your immune system and leave you vulnerable to colds and flu, so do what you can to get a good night’s sleep. From avoiding caffeine in the evening to banishing screens from the bedroom, there are things you can do to improve your sleep quality and reduce your odds of getting sick.
  10. Ask about antiviral drugs if you get the flu. If you think you have the flu, it is important to see your doctor right away. Antiviral drugs can shorten the duration of certain flu symptoms and reduce the risk of a serious complication. These drugs must be taken quickly, so see your doctor at the first sign of illness.

Flu season will be here before you know it, and now is the time to get ready. Once it gains a foothold, the flu virus can spread quickly, so the sooner you start protecting yourself, the better off you will be. The 10 tips listed above can help you protect yourself and your family from this serious and at times life-threatening viral illness.