Influenza, or ‘the flu’ is a highly contagious respiratory illness that leads to thousands of GP visits every year. While you can catch the flu at any time of the year, it is more likely to happen during the colder months. The flu season typically peaks around August in Australia, but so far laboratory confirmed cases of Influenza have been higher than usual this year. The flu vaccine and good hygiene are still the best ways of protection against the flu.
How Can I Prepare For The Flu Season?
1. Get Vaccinated
The best way to avoid contracting the flu is to become vaccinated against the virus. It is important to get the flu shot every year to continue to be protected. Your immunity wears off after 3 to 4 months and the flu virus evolves and changes over time.
2. Wash your hands
Good hand hygiene is one of the best ways you can prevent the flu and other illnesses from spreading. You should wash your hands for 30 seconds with soap and water each time you scrub – especially before a meal. Washing with soap and water will yield the best results but an alcohol based hand sanitiser is a very useful on the go method for hand washing. Convenience is key – keep one in your car and clip one to your kid’s backpack.
3. Practise good respiratory hygiene
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and wash your hands afterwards, and encourage those around you to do the same. Ensure tissues are promptly placed into a bin to prevent someone else from touching them. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
4. Disinfect surfaces
Viral germs can survive in the environment for several hours so it is important to stop the spread of germs by keeping your space clean. Regularly disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as your keyboard, phone, door handles, light switches and faucet handles. Use disinfectant wipes at work to clean the phone and desk area.
5. Avoid sharing
Try not to share cups, plates, cutlery and towels with other people if you can, even if they don’t seem sick.
6. Maintain healthy habits
Ensure you are getting your 8 hours sleep at night, staying hydrated and eating a variety of healthy foods to give your immune system the best fighting chance. Exercise regularly and take time to de-stress. If you do become ill, stay at home to avoid spreading the illness to other people.
Please note that antibiotics will NOT help in any way with the flu or a cold as these illness’s are caused by a virus. Antibiotics only work for bacterial infections.