Influenza, commonly known as flu, is a highly contagious disease caused by the influenza virus. Depending on the strain and our immune system, we can experience anything from mild symptoms to being laid up in bed for two weeks to developing serious complications.
Dr Victoria D’Abrera from St John of God Pathology says there are three things you can do to help you avoid the dreaded flu.
“Firstly, get the flu shot – it’s your best way of protecting yourself from the flu,” Dr D’Abrera says. “After being immunized, you might get some achiness or fever, but that’s normal, it’s your immune system working. It’s all short lived and very much worth it in the long run.”
Everyone is encouraged to get the flu vaccine, but it is strongly recommended for high complication risk groups such as pregnant women, the elderly, Aboriginal people aged over 15 years and people with certain health conditions such as heart or kidney disease or a weakened immune system. “Wash your hands well and use a hand sanitiser if you don’t have access to soap and water.”
“Eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals and, in terms of fruit and vegetables, the more colourful the better.” Dr D’Abrera recommends a reasonable amount of exercise but watch out for communal environments, such as gyms, which are much more likely to be contaminated with flu germs. “When you are in the gym, avoid hand, face and nose contact and use antibacterial wipes on all the equipment before you use it.” “Also, it’s a good idea to wash your hands after you’ve worked out.” If you feel like you are coming down with the flu, you should avoid going to work but if you really must go in, limit your contact with others, dispose of your tissues thoughtfully and wash your hands.
If you end up with the flu, go straight to bed. “Rest is very important to enable your body to recover.” “Take ibuprofen with caution as gastric irritation may occur and limit paracetamol, especially when taking multiple medications like cold and flu tablets.”