Five tips to avoid the flu this season

As the flu season nears, people across the nation are being urged to prepare for quite possibly the worst season yet. Australians have already been hit hard with the flu in 2018, with 10,000 cases so far reported.

To break it down further, Queensland and New South Wales have been named Australia’s hot spots with a total of 7,059 cases collectively to date. As usual, children and the elderly are most at risk of getting the flu as they’re most vulnerable.

The Australian public has undeniably noticed common tips to avoiding the flu, varying from maintaining a healthy diet to getting a good night’s sleep.

Though, are these precautions really all they are made out to be? The experts at House Call Doctor discuss the top five tips to staying healthy and the reason they work.

#1 Get the flu vaccine

flu vaccine
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You have heard it time and time again, but yes, the flu vaccination really is one of the best protections against the flu. So much so, governments across Australia including Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria are offering free vaccinations for children under the age of five and the elderly over the age of 65.

As young children have a vulnerable immune system and are exposed to viruses in day care or kindergarten facilities, free vaccinations are on offer for kids under five from chemists and local doctors. Older people are also receiving a free vaccination because, as we get older, our immune systems become weaker at protecting us from diseases – therefore we’re more likely to catch illnesses.

While there are myths surrounding the flu vaccine (for example, how it can give you the flu) these are merely speculative. A new flu vaccine in Australia is created each year based on prominent strains predicted for the upcoming season. The vaccine does not contain any live viruses, though it can mimic some symptoms of the flu.

#2 Stay warm

blanket bed
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During the coldest times of the year, it is important to keep your body as covered as possible to retain body heat. The most efficient way to do this is by wearing several layers of thin clothes rather than one thick layer.

As the coldest time of the day is before dawn, make sure to add extra blankets to your bed and dress in warm layers of clothing or nightwear.

#3 Maintain hygiene

wash hands
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Hygiene is the first line of defence against a flu infection. This is because influenza is typically spread from person to person, or by touching objects recently contaminated with the virus and then touching mouth or nose.

To prevent this, wash your hands regularly (particularly before eating) and for at least 15 seconds using antibacterial soap. Washing your hands regularly and thoroughly is a big help when it comes to destroying germs and curbing the spread of illness.

It is also important to shower at least once a day to ensure your skin stays clean. Though the weather may be cooler, it does not mean you are not sweating – in fact you may even be sweating more during winter.

#4 Keep a balanced diet

vegies
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During winter, it is essential to boost your immunity to help ward off any infections or viruses. Maintaining a well-balanced and nutritional diet is always advised, particularly with fresh vegetables and whole grains.

Reported studies from the United Studies have also shown foods rich in vitamin B6 and B12 could help boost the immune system.

Vitamin B6 is widely available in foods including:

  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Turkey
  • Beans
  • Cereal grains.

While foods rich in B12 include:

  • Meat
  • Milk
  • Fish.

#5 Stick to an early bedtime

sleep
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Each night you should be getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep as part of a healthy lifestyle. Tips to help get to sleep at night include:

Making a bedtime routine:

Sticking to a bedtime routine, most importantly going to bed at a regular time each night, can make it easier to fall asleep.

Turning off all screens before bed:

By eliminating screen time in your bed, this will help you get to sleep earlier as you are only associating your bed with sleep. It also means you are not exposed to as much blue-light before bed. The blue-light our screens produce interferes with the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin so the less exposure close to bed time, the better.

Making sure you are regularly exercising:

Regular exercise helps relieve the tension in your body and therefore helps you to sleep.

Avoiding meals close to bedtime:

Eating too close to bedtime can often make you too alert and unable to relax. Instead, try eating a few hours before you usually go to bed.

Sarah McCallum Author

Sarah is an experienced writer who enjoys exploring a range of subject matter and translating information into an engaging article. She has a particular interest in the health field and encourages her readers to become smart health consumers.