Everything You Need To Know About Avoiding The Flu
Everyone has found themselves sat on a bus, train or tube next to someone who has let out the most enormous sneeze. As unpleasant as this situation is, we can’t help but feel some empathy for that person, as we are all susceptible to catching flu, usually at the least convenient time imaginable.
Frequently flu seems to strike us from out of nowhere. For Infection Prevention Week, we’ve written some of our top tips on how to avoid the flu below, so that you can reduce your risk of suddenly feeling bunged up with a nasty cough and cold or worse. Anyone not observing these tips in our office will find themselves on the receiving end of passive-aggressive side-eyes until further notice.
Optimise Your Hand-Washing
We encounter billions of bacteria and viruses every day, which are commonly known as germs. Some of these germs are good for us, others are not so good, and many of them can leave us vulnerable to illnesses like the flu. The fewer germs you interact with, the lower your risks of catching the flu. There is one failsafe, simple method which you can use to kill germs.
Washing your hands correctly will drastically reduce the damage that harmful germs can cause you, by eliminating them before they enter your body. Those giving advice on proper hand-washing may sound like a cracked record. However, many people are still washing their hands with no soap or they are just splashing their hands under the tap. Imagine if someone at work went to a lunch meeting after washing their hands in this way, and then shook your hand. Imagine if unknowingly, you then ate a sandwich. All the germs on that individual’s hands would enter your system and leave you at significant risk of catching the flu. This frequent spread of infections is incredibly frustrating for medical professionals, as this transmission of germs could be so easily prevented, by more effective hand-washing routines. When washing your hands, you should:
- Use hot water.
- Use soap.
- Cover both hands in soap.
- Be sure to wash in between your fingers and thumbs.
- Dry your hands thoroughly (with a disposable towel if in public.)
- Use the disposable towel to turn off the tap.
- Throw the towel away.
Make Sure You Always Have Tissues To Hand When You Need Them
Again, this may seem like such a basic piece of advice that it need not be given. However, very often people will cough, sneeze and spit without covering their mouths with a tissue. Tissues will catch all the germs you are emitting and allow you to put them straight in the bin, before they can be passed to anyone around you. It is vital that after disposing of your tissue, you wash your hands. Otherwise you risk sneezing germs onto your hand, and then offering those germs a quick and safe return to your body, whenever you next touch your nose, eyes or mouth. Those germs would also be passed to anyone and anything that you touched before next washing your hands.
Get A Flu Vaccine When Advised By Your GP
If certain groups catch the flu, the illness can develop into far more serious respiratory conditions, such as pneumonia. Over 65s, pregnant women, small children, and those with underlying health conditions could be left facing these serious, potentially life-threatening conditions if they contract flu. The vaccine is crucial in these instances because it attacks the influenza virus that causes the illness. This means that if you catch flu having taken the vaccine, you are likely to contract a milder form of the illness, as much of the virus will already have been dismantled by the vaccine. The likelihood of your flu developing into more severe conditions will then be drastically reduced. It is therefore recommended that if you are in any of the at-risk groups listed above (or are responsible for anyone in them), you book a flu vaccine annually with your GP. Children can now be given the flu vaccine as a free nasal spray by their GP. This spray (administered once to each nostril) is even more effective at protecting them from the influenza virus than an injection. It is also pain and needle free, which will be music to the ears of parents across the country.
Long-term stress, over a month or more can leave you more vulnerable to the flu. When you are stressed, not only does your immune system become suppressed, but you often sleep less regularly and eat less healthily, particularly if issues at work are keeping you in the office for hours after you should have gone home. This will only increase your risk of contracting flu. Some of the best ways to reduce your stress levels include:
- Taking regular exercise – very often employers will pay for their staff to have free or discounted gym memberships. Even if you do not want to go to the gym, regularly walking can do wonders for your stress-relief.
- Reading – Take yourself away to a fictional world, far away from whatever is stressing you out.
- Listening to music – Immerse yourself in a world of sound, to which issues causing you stress are denied entry.
- Talking to your friends – Ask people about their lives. Focus on them rather than issues that are bothering you.
- Writing down how you feel – Seeing your problems in writing can help you judge whether they really warrant such a consumption of your time, making it far easier for you to solve them.
While it is impossible to totally prevent flu, hopefully by following our tips you will be able to reduce your risk of catching this illness, and make sure that if you do find yourself suffering from the flu, it will not develop into a more serious condition.
If you’re feeling under the weather, you can consult one of our GP’s below.