Winter is coming, so cold and flu season is right around the corner. It’s that time when everyone is sick and passing germs around. Of course, no one wants to deal with the sniffles, sore throat, and fatigue that come with these illnesses, so what can you do to prevent them? Check out these five tips for fighting off colds and flu.
Get a Flu Shot
The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated yearly. The flu vaccine helps your body build up immunity to the most common strains of the flu virus, making it less likely that you’ll get sick if exposed. Getting a flu shot is quick, easy, and relatively painless, so there’s no excuse not to do it.
Yearly, the flu puts millions of people in the hospital and causes thousands of deaths, so it’s nothing to be taken lightly. While vaccines don’t provide 100% protection, they’re still the best line of defense against the flu. The CDC estimates that the flu vaccine prevented 7.5 million illnesses and 6,300 deaths during the 2019-2020 season.
The flu shot is developed to target the most common flu strains each year, so it’s important to get vaccinated every year to make sure you’re protected against the latest viruses. Flu shots are available for free through many insurance plans, and they can also be found at pharmacies and doctor’s offices.
Eat a Proper Diet
Consuming a proper diet regularly is one of the most important aspects of immunity. Eating a daily diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants helps to keep your immune system functioning properly. In addition, eating a balanced diet helps to maintain a healthy weight, which is another important factor in immunity.
There are foods that are particularly beneficial for immunity, such as citrus fruits, leafy greens, garlic, ginger, and yogurt. Incorporating these foods into your diet can aid with immune support and keep you healthy during cold and flu season.
There are certain vitamins that will benefit your immunity, such as elderberry, vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc. Getting these vitamins from food is always best, but sometimes that is difficult to do. A dietary supplement can be a good way to get the vitamins and minerals you need regularly. Dietary supplements come in many forms, such as capsules, powders, and gummies. Gummies are one of the easiest ways to consume supplements if you have trouble swallowing pills. Gummies are a tasty, chewable form that is easy to ingest. When choosing a gummy, make sure they are sugar-free, gluten-free, and lack artificial flavors.
Elderberry gummies are a great way to fight off colds and flu. They are packed with vitamins and antioxidants that support immune health. The elderberry supplement is also known for its ability to reduce inflammation and shorten the duration of colds and flu. Elderberry supplements have been used for centuries as a natural remedy for these illnesses, and modern science has now proven their efficacy.
It can be surprisingly difficult to get enough vitamin D from food sources, so supplementing with a vitamin D chewable is a great way to ensure you’re getting enough of this important vitamin. Vitamin D3 is essential for immunity, and it’s also been shown to reduce the severity of colds and flu. A deficiency in vitamin D has been linked to an increased risk of respiratory infections, so making sure you’re consuming enough of this important vitamin is crucial during cold and flu season.
Wash Your Hands Regularly
One of the most common ways to acquire a cold or the flu is by coming into contact with someone who is currently sick. To avoid getting sick yourself, make sure to wash your hands regularly, especially after being in public places where you may have come into contact with germs. Hand-washing doesn’t have to be complicated—just use soap and water and scrub for 20 seconds.
While this seems like the easiest step to take, Medical News Today states that many people do not wash their hands properly or regularly. In a study of 3,749 adults, researchers found that only 5% of people washed their hands correctly after using the restroom.
It may sound silly, but avoiding contact with your face is actually a great way to prevent colds and flu. Why? Because our hands are often covered in germs, and those germs can easily make their way into our bodies through our eyes, nose, or mouth. So instead of touching your face throughout the day, keep your hands busy by fidgeting with a stress ball or squeezing a hand exerciser.
Drinking plenty of fluids is critical for overall health, but it’s especially important when you’re trying to fight off a cold or the flu. That’s because staying hydrated helps thin mucus secretions and prevents dehydration—two things that can help you feel better if you’re sick. Plus, liquids like water, juice, and herbal tea can also soothe a sore throat. Just make sure to avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee and soda, as they can actually further dehydrate you.
When staying hydrated, avoid excessive use of alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic and actually pulls water from your body. So instead of reaching for a beer when you’re feeling under the weather, stick to water, juice, or herbal tea. Alcohol has been proven to have negative effects on sleep. When you are drinking alcohol, you may fall asleep more easily, but you will not stay asleep as well throughout the night. This can lead to feeling more tired when you wake up, which is the last thing you want when you are already feeling sick.
Get Plenty of Rest
Colds and flu are exhausting; there’s no way around it. When you’re feeling under the weather, be sure to get plenty of rest so your body can focus on fighting off the illness. That means staying home from work or school if possible and getting at least eight hours of sleep each night. If you can’t manage that much sleep, try taking naps during the day or going to bed earlier than usual.
The average person needs to get around eight hours of sleep per night. But when you’re sick, you may need even more than that. In fact, one clinical study found that people who slept less than seven hours per night were three times more likely to come down with a cold than those who slept eight hours or more. So if you’re feeling exhausted, don’t fight it. Go to bed.
While sleeping, our bodies are hard at work repairing tissue, fighting infection, and restoring energy reserves. When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies don’t have time to do all of these things. This can leave us feeling run down and make it more difficult to fight off colds and flu.
There are a few things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep, such as:
- Establishing a regular sleep schedule and going to bed at the same time each night
- Creating a relaxing bedtime routine, such as reading or taking a bath
- Exercising regularly (but not right before bed)
- Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol
No one enjoys being sick, but unfortunately, colds and flu are inevitable. However, there are things you can do to decrease your chances of getting sick in the first place, as well as ease symptoms if you do catch something. So don’t wait until you’re already sick to start taking action. Implement these five tips into your routine now, and be prepared for whatever cold and flu season throws your way.