Flu Prevention Tips

by eMedExpert staff
Medical references reviewed: August, 2018

Influenza (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 influenza occur during the flu season. Flu epidemic generally runs from late-November to March. During an influenza epidemic many people get sick all at once.


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A cold and the flu have similar or identical symptoms. A cold is generally mild illness. The flu tends to be more severe and accompanied by extreme weakness and tiredness.

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 75-100°C (167-212F)
  • Alcohol
  • Chlorine and chlorine compounds
  • Glutaraldehyde
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Detergents (soap),
  • Iodine preparations
  • Povidone-iodine

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

garlic  clove

1Raw garlic

Garlic is one of the best natural flu prevention remedies. 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). Also, you can 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.

yogurt

2Yogurt

Yogurt has immunostimulatory effects4 and the great potential as a protective anti-infective agent for respiratory infections. 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.

cup of green tea

3Green tea

Regular green tea drinking may reduce the risk of catching the flu. Green tea exerts a powerful antiviral effect on influenza virus. There is strong scientific evidence that catechins (polyphenolic antioxidant compounds) in green tea inhibit the replication of the influenza virus7-8.

4Drink plenty of fluids

Drinking plain water is the best. However water with lemon juice, sweetened with honey, 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 for immune system and overall health. Water helps your liver and kidneys to wash out the toxins.

Helpful tip: The deep yellow color of your urine indicates that you need more fluids.

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

fruits

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. Smokers are more likely to catch the flu and develop severe symptoms 2, 5. Also, there is a higher mortality rate from influenza for smokers than for non-smokers.

Smoking leads to the structural changes in the airways and lungs, and weakened 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.

crowds

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 highly 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.


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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 through the mucous membranes. Rubbing your eyes, nose, or mouth is a sure-fire way to get the flu.

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: December 17, 2017

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