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Flu Prevention Tips

Infuenza (flu) is infection of the lungs and airways causing a fever, runny nose, cough, headache, muscle aches and a general feeling of illness.

Every year, in different countries at the world, widespread outbreaks of infuenza occur during the flu season, which typically runs from late-November to March. Influenza occurs in epidemics, in which many people get sick all at once.

A cold and the flu have many of the same symptoms. But a cold is generally mild, while the flu tends to be more severe.

Symptom
Cold
Flu
Onset of illness Slow onset of illness Sudden onset of illness
Fever No or mild fever High fever
Headache Mild or absent Perceptible
Muscle aches Mild or Absent Significant

What kills influenza virus? Influenza virus is destroyed by heat (167-212F [75-100C]). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols are effective against influenza viruses if used in proper concentration for sufficient length of time. For example, wipes or gels with alcohol in them can be used to clean hands. The gels should be rubbed until they are dry.

Incorporating the following simple habits into your daily routine will help you to stay healthy this season.

1Raw garlic

Garlic is one of the best natural remedies for flu prevention. Garlic kills viruses responsible for colds and the flu, according to tests run by a microbiologist at Brigham Young University. It may be helpful to smear nasal cavity with garlic juice (this may cause burning sensation). Or you could simply chew the chive garlic, you even don't need to swallow it. To protect your child hang up to the cot a small gauze bag with crushed raw garlic.

2Yogurt

Yogurt has immunostimulatory effects4 and the great potential as a protective anti-infection agent. Regular yogurt consumption may help increase your resistance to germs. In a year-long study3 researchers at the University of California found that regular yogurt consumption (200 g of plain yogurt per day) reduces susceptibility to upper respiratory infections, such as colds and flu.

3Green tea

Regular green tea drinking may reduce your risk for flu. Green tea exerts a powerful antiviral effect on influenza virus. There is a strong scientific evidence that catechins (polyphenolic antioxidant compounds) in green tea inhibit influenza virus replication7-8.

4Drink plenty of fluids

The plain water is the best, however water with lemon juice, sweetened with honey, black tea, herbal tea, or fresh sugar-free juice (you may dilute it with water) are also good choices. Drinking plenty of water will keep you well hydrated. And proper hydration is essential to a strong immune system and overall health. Water flushes your system, washing out the poisons as it rehydrates you.

How to know if you are getting enough fluids? If the color of your urine is close to clear, you're getting enough. If it's deep yellow, you need more fluids.

Also remember, that alcohol can be dehydrating, which in turn may decrease your resistance to viruses.

5Fruits and vegetables

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Good sources of Vitamin C are citrus fruits, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, nuts, kiwi. Apples exert antiviral properties6 and are great preventive remedy against flu.

6Quit smoking

If you are a smoker and want to protect yourself from the flu - break off your habit. Cigarette smoking is risk factor for influenza2, 5. Also, there is a higher mortality rate from influenza for smokers than for non-smokers. Mechanisms by which smoking increases the risk of infections include structural changes in the respiratory tract and a decrease in immune response.

7Room ventilation

Proper ventilation significantly reduces the concentration of pathogenic bacteria and viruses in the air. Opening windows is an easy and extremely effective natural ventilation technique.

8Avoid crowds

Try to avoid crowds whenever possible during the peak of flu season. Doing this you significantly reduce your exposure to the infection. Flu spreads easily in crowded places such as child care centers, schools, office buildings, auditoriums, stores and supermarkets.

9Get dressed properly

Our temperature sensory receptors (Thermoreceptors) are concentrated on the hands, feet, neck and head. So, keep these parts of your body warm.

10Keep the distance

To reduce your chances of infection, develop the habit of keeping a distance (about six feet), if possible, between yourself and others during flu epidemic.

11Hand washing

Human influenza viruses can survive on surfaces up to 48 hours. Washing your hands often for 15-20 seconds with warm water and soap will help protect you from germs.

12Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth

Avoid touching your nose, eyes, or mouth unless you have clean hands. The eyes, nose and mouth are entry ports for flu viruses. Germs can enter your body easily by these paths. Rubbing your eyes, nose, or mouth is a sure-fire way to get the flu. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with virus and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.

References
  • 1. Escombe AR, Oeser CC, Gilman RH, Navincopa M, Ticona E, Pan W, Marti'nez C, Chacaltana J, Rodri'guez R, Moore DA, Friedland JS, Evans CA. Natural ventilation for the prevention of airborne contagion. PLoS Med. 2007 Feb;4(2):e68. PubMed
  • 2. Arcavi L, Benowitz NL. Cigarette smoking and infection. Arch Intern Med 2004 Nov 8;164(20):2206-16.
  • 3. Judy Van de Water, Carl L. Keen, M. Eric Gershwin. The influence of chronic yogurt consumption on iImmunity. Journal of Nutrition. 1999;129:1492S-1495S.
  • 4. Meydani SN, Ha WK. Immunologic effects of yogurt. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000 Apr;71(4):861-72.
  • 5. Kark JD, Lebiush M, Rannon L. Cigarette smoking as a risk factor for epidemic a(h1n1) influenza in young men. N Engl J Med. 1982 Oct 21;307(17):1042-6. PubMed
  • 6. Hamauzu Y, Yasui H, Inno T, Kume C, Omanyuda M. Phenolic profile, antioxidant property, and anti-influenza viral activity of Chinese quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis Schneid.), quince (Cydonia oblonga Mill.), and apple (Malus domestica Mill.) fruits. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Feb 23;53(4):928-34.
  • 7. Song JM, Park KD, Lee KH, Byun YH, Park JH, Kim SH, Kim JH, Seong BL. Biological evaluation of anti-influenza viral activity of semi-synthetic catechin derivatives. Antiviral Res. 2007 Nov;76(2):178-85. PubMed
  • 8. Song JM, Lee KH, Seong BL. Antiviral effect of catechins in green tea on influenza virus. Antiviral Res. 2005 Nov;68(2):66-74. PubMed

Published: May, 2007
Last updated: March 01, 2014

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