Flu Season - Minimizing Your Risk

Flu Season – Minimizing Your Risk

Fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and fatigue. Do these symptoms sound familiar? No one wants to feel this way; however, nearly all of us will be exposed to the influenza virus at some point during this flu season. The virus is everywhere and now is the time to think about your approach to significantly reduce your risk of getting the flu. Fortunately minimizing the risk of becoming infected can be achieved with just a few simple steps. Integrating cutting edge science, quality nutrition and the development of good habits is all you need to arm yourself adequately.

The Science: Get Your Flu Shot!

Flu symptoms develop as a result of your body’s response to the influenza virus and the severity is often associated with your immune system’s ability to fight off the virus. A flu shot helps build a stronger immune system by creating antibodies, your body’s natural defense mechanism. Already having antibodies in place is like having a shield on the inside that serves as a layer of protection from the virus. We all know too well the aches and pains of having the flu, but it can also lead to lost productivity, more serious illnesses and even hospitalization. The very young, very old and those with chronic illness are most vulnerable. By doing your part and getting the flu vaccine you protect yourself and all those around you!

There are two versions of the vaccine available for 2015, trivalent and quadrivalent. Trivalent covers three flu strains and quadrivalent protects against four strains. Martin’s pharmacists will recommend and administer the quadrivalent version. Timing is important, as the flu vaccine takes about two weeks for the antibodies to be fully activated in your body. We recommended getting your vaccine early in the season with the ideal time-frame between September and November. Always check with your healthcare provider prior to getting the vaccine to ensure you are getting the version offering the broadest coverage and maximum benefit.

The Nutrition: Fuel Your Body!

Quality nutrition and your immune system’s function go hand in hand. To keep your body operating at an optimal level it is important you receive key nutrients such as zinc, selenium and antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E. The primary source of these should be your diet but supplementation with a high quality vitamin is often recommended. Some of the foods which support immune health include:

Shellfish
Salmon and tuna
Beef
Sweet potatoes
Green leafy vegetables
Mushrooms
Bananas
Chicken soup

Yes, your grandmother was correct all along, there are real benefits to chicken soup! The warm salty broth helps to thin out the mucus while the cysteine in the chicken may help to open up the airways.

The Good Habits: Wash Those Hands and Sanitize!

The primary method by which you are exposed to the flu virus is by touching something that is contaminated and then touching your mouth and nose. Surfaces and objects become contaminated when an infected person coughs, talks, or sneezes expelling tiny droplets containing the virus into the air. The virus is received two ways, either through the air directly or from a surface on which it lands. To minimize your risk, wash your hands frequently, use hand sanitizer if a sink is not readily available and clean the surfaces you are in contact with routinely, using a disinfectant or antimicrobial wipe.

Flu season is inevitable and before long it will be fully upon us. Take careful steps now to implement a plan that will minimize your risk. The flu vaccine continues to be the single most effective way to prevent the illness. In addition to the vaccine, proper diet and nutrition can boost your immune system, while good hand washing and sanitization procedures help to prevent transmission into the body. Even though there is not one single action that will guarantee you will not get the flu this season, combining all of the above will certainly give you the best chance to remain well this coming season.