Steps to Be Healthy in Flu Season
Here is North America we are in the midst of the flu season, with the H1N1 virus seemingly causing most of the cases. This post will give you some ideas on how to increase your chances of staying healthy and flu-free at this time. and how to recognize if you have flu if you should become sick.
Influenza, commonly known as ‘the flu’, is a common contagious respiratory infection that affects the nose, throat and lungs. Like the common cold it is spread by droplets from infected people when they are talking, sneezing or coughing, or from touching objects contaminated by the influenza virus. These may include the hands of those with flu, or things they have touched such as door handles, surfaces, or any object. Therefore one important way to prevent the flu virus from entering your body is to wash your hands frequently, especially after being with someone who may have flu, and before eating or touching your eyes or mucous membranes, but also after being in a public place. Also, if you are in the company of someone who has flu, ask them to sneeze or cough into a handkerchief, and not just into the air – and don’t shake hands!
Strengthen The Immune System
The system responsible for preventing infection in the body is the immune system, and to stay healthy you have to nurture it by living a healthy lifestyle. The immune system is made up of a number of components spread throughout the body, including:
- the tonsils and adenoids, which help trap germs and viruses before they can infect the body;
- the lymph nodes which filter lymphatic fluid, trapping viruses and bacteria until the special white blood cells known as lymphocytes can dispose of them;
- the spleen which filters the blood, destroying bacteria and other foreign matter, and also removes damaged blood cells;
- the thymus and tonsils which make antibodies to fight infection;
- the white blood cells which increase in number during an infection so they can attack and destroy the infectious agents.
Although there are many substances thought to increase the responsiveness of the immune system, there appears to be no reliable research on what actually works. Since the mind appears to have an effect on the body, I suggest choosing your favorite immune booster, checking on the internet to make sure that it will not have a negative affect on your health, and then using it. Belief has been shown to be very important in creating health, and other things that we want. So using a practice or a safe substance that you firmly believe will keep you healthy, plus taking the precautions laid out in the first and following paragraphs, may well help you avoid catching the flu. Or, if you don’t believe in immune boosters , then just believe that you will stay healthy.
Follow a Healthy Lifestyle
We all like to think we have a healthy lifestyle, although most of us fall off the wagon occasionally. But when there are infections around that we would like to avoid, it helps to stick to healthy habits, to give our body the best change of resisting the infection.
The three major components of a healthy lifestyle are a healthy diet, adequate exercise and sufficient sleep. These will be defined differently according to your age, sex, body type, and situation, but there are some essentials. For example, substances such as alcohol and sugary carbohydrates, like cakes, doughnuts or candies, impair the body’s ability to fight off infection by ingesting bacteria, so these foods should be avoided, or taken in very small amounts. I also believe that vegetables, and some fruit, should make up the majority of the diet, but just came across a website that says that cultures, like that of the Eskimo, who eat no vegetables are perfectly healthy.
Forty minutes a day of regular moderate exercise has been shown to improve the immune system, and to increase the number of macrophages, white -blood cells that attack bacteria that trigger upper-respiratory disease. However, exercise of 90 minutes a day has been shown to increase susceptibility to infection for up to three days following. For those who have a head-cold training less than 40 minutes is suggested, but those with illness or injury below the neck should wait until the symptoms are gone before resuming training. The message is clear: exercise moderately to prevent getting the flu, but if you should get it, then wait until you are better before resuming training.
Sleep deprivation has been shown to negatively affect the immune system, so if you want to want to stay flu-free, get enough sleep. There is also evidence that shows that the flu-shot is not as effective in those who are sleep deprived, and that lack of sleep can interfere with the body’s ability to fight infection. So if you are not getting sufficient sleep, you are more likely to catch the flu, and to have a worse case, than if you are well-rested.
How much is too little sleep? It seems that seven hours is the minimum amount of sleep required, and that if you are getting less than that frequently, then you are sleep deprived.
How To Tell If You’ve Got Flu
Several symptoms of a cold and the flu are similar, so how do you know it’s the flu?
While a runny nose, sore throat, chills and a cough can be indications of either the flu or a cold, the flu generally has some other symptoms that do not, or rarely, occur with a cold. For instance, it is common to ache all over and to feel very exhausted with the flu. Nausea, and perhaps vomiting, and a fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit is also more common with the flu than with a cold.
If you do get the flu, stay warm at home, rest and sleep as much as your body needs to, and keep well hydrated – clear beverages are best if you are nauseated, but these can include broth, clear juices, and jello. Stay home until your fever has been gone for 24 hours.
There are signs and symptoms that may occur with the flu and that generally indicate that you need medical help, as they may be life-threatening. These include dehydration, which can result from vomiting or diarrhea, or because you feel to ill to drink. If the latter, and in the early stages, dehydration can be turned around by drinking more water, but if it progresses you should seek medical help immediately. Other signs and symptoms that indicate medical help is needed are: chest pain or stomach pain; a very high fever; discolored lips; or dizziness. Also contact your doctor if there are any other symptoms that concern you.
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