Protect yourself against the flu this winter

Fiona Heavey


Fiona Heavey

Protect yourself against the flu this winter

Tissues at the ready - it is the cold and flu season

The season of coughing and sneezing is upon us and everywhere you look people are sick.
For some it is the annual return of the head cold, cough or the cold feeling in your bones.
But for many October has already seen an increase in viral infections, flus and stomach bugs.

If you and your loved ones have not already been struck down, count yourselves lucky and take preventative action now to see the winter through with a full bill of health.

Influenza is a highly infectious acute respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus.
Influenza affects people of all ages. Outbreaks of influenza occur almost every year, usually in winter. It is serious and can cause long term illness and even death.

Flu can be prevented by vaccination. The Flu vaccine is a safe, effective way to help prevent flu infection, avoiding hospitalisation, reducing flu related deaths and illnesses.
Those who should get vaccinated include people over 65 years and everyone who has a long-term health condition (including those with asthma), pregnant women, healthcare workers, carers, residents of nursing homes and people in regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl.
For those of you who are not in the reccommended group for the flu vaccine there are a number of ways to try and prevent you and your family being infected.
Here are some of our top tips to help you avoid the flu this Winter:

1. Avoid close contact with sick people.
2. Clean your hands and sanitise regularly.
3. Avoid touching your face.
4. Eat a balanced and healthy diet.
5. Exercise regularly.
6. Sip hot drinks.
7. Bring your own pen to sign documents and use it to key in your pin at ATMs.
8. Get plenty of sleep.
9. Start a tonic or take multivitamins to supplement your diet.
10. Avoid stress and relax.

University of Arizona scientists found that when someone is sick in an office, it takes only four hours for surfaces like coffeepot handles, copy-machine buttons and the fridge door to show traces of infectious virus!

If you want to step up your defence system and boost your immune, talk to a health food provider who can point you in the right direction.

This is not the time to skimp on your fruit and veg, stock up!
You should always be drinking lots of water, but it is never as important as during the winter months. Stay hydrated as you turn up the central heating!
Although the season to be merry is only a number of weeks away, remember drinking alcohol supresses your immune system.
If you want to treat your body over the winter months, opt for a massage an increase in circulation improves blood flow and helps to give the body a general sense of wellness.

Dealing with the flu

Most people with flu are able to recover at home within a week without needing medical care.
People who have very severe symptoms, or are in one of the high risk groups should contact their GP/family doctor by telephone if they get the flu.

The HSE advises you stay at home for up to 7 days or until you fully recover - do not go to work or school while ill.
While at home you should rest in bed as much as possible, take medicines such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce the symptoms.
Try to drink plenty of fluids.

Discourage any visitors to avoid infecting others.
Contact your GP surgery by telephone if you don't improve, or if you start to improve and then get worse.
Family or householders should avoid as much face to face contact with the patient.
Surfaces and items inside the house should be cleaned regularly with bleach based household cleaners.
All tissues should be disposed of by the patient and bin bags should be sealed and taken outside as soon as possible.