When discussing the importance of public health, it’s key to not neglect the importance of taking steps to prepare for flu season and preventing the spread of infection. With temperatures around the U.S. starting to go down — and flu season on the horizon — now is the time to get prepared. And as mothers know, flu season can be especially tough when it affects the whole family. Whatever happens, it’s always good to avoid having to make a trip to the ER.
If your family, like most families in America, dread flu season and the week of phlegm-filled downtime it inevitably entails, you’re probably already planning to get your flu shot before the colder months begin. However, only about half the population bothers to get a flu shot; for those who do, preparations typically end there. Given how bad recent flu seasons have been, this is can be a serious mistake.
So what can you do to best prepare yourself for the next flu season? If you’re looking for inspiration, here are four surprising — but effective — methods that you may have not considered:
Let Some Cold Air In
In the colder months, as we bundle up and try to get comfortable, we often unintentionally create environments that promote the spread of infection. When we keep an environment closed (in order to keep the heat in and the cold out), for example, we hinder the circulation of living spaces. Because the flu can spread through the air and by contact with contaminated items, closed windows and doors can increase the likelihood that people living in the house will get sick.
However, by improving airflow in your living quarters, you can reduce your chances of getting sick. Simply opening your windows and doors can help! While the cold air may be unwanted, it doesn’t actually increase your chances of getting the flu. If the air outside is too dry for you, consider counteracting it by using a humidifier — check out humidifier reviews to get a feel for what suits your needs and budget.
Of course, there are other methods of improving the air circulation in your house. This includes:
- Installing an attic vent
- Installing exhaust fans
- Running ceiling/window fans
- Running your heater to accelerate airflow (be cautious of excessive energy consumption!)
Treat Sick Household Members Like They Have the Plague
This may sound excessive, but when someone in your household gets sick, it helps to quarantine them. If it helps you to remember to follow best practices, imagine they have the plague — a highly contagious and deadly disease. By treating the situation with such seriousness, you’ll be more likely to avoid getting sick yourself.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to neglect your sick loved ones. The surest way to prevent the spread of the infection is treating their living area as one would a clinical setting. This entails, as outlined by Bradley University:
- Keeping sick family members or roommates in separate areas from those who are well
- Using face masks and gloves to keep germs from spreading
- Making hand sanitizer available throughout the house
- Frequently washing hands and areas/surfaces that sick individuals come into contact with
- Encouraging sick housemates to minimize the spread of the disease by coughing/sneezing into the crook of their elbows rather than their palms
The best way to ensure that you can properly care for family and friends is to prevent getting sick yourself. Quarantining them may sound extreme, but it is the best approach to preventing the spread of the flu.
Try Going Vegan — or at Least Eat More Plant-Based Foods
The modern diet, despite leaving us with full bellies, often leaves us nutritionally deficient. If your diet consists primarily of foods made from animal products, you may be technically malnourished, as there are many nutrients you can’t get from animal foods. And, unfortunately, malnourishment can affect your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to getting the flu.
Plant-based foods, on the other hand, are generally rich in phytonutrients, a key substance for maintaining health and preventing disease. Dietician Dr. Conor Kerley states that, “Phytonutrients are non-essential but highly beneficial nutrients found only in plant foods … There is evidence that phytonutrients have antiviral properties.” Eating more plant-based foods can improve your immune system’s ability to fight back against sickness, keeping you healthy this upcoming flu season.
When seeking out “powerhouse” fruits or veggies, keep in mind that there isn’t clear criteria for what meets that definition. Do your research before buying into the hype of a specific product or adopting a fad diet of any kind.
Become a Skeptic
After reading some of these unusual tips, your gut reaction may be skepticism. That’s good — you should never accept medical information or advice without confirming its veracity. In addition to consulting your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet or lifestyle in order to avoid the flu this upcoming season, you should be sure that you’re seeking out trustworthy medical information from authoritative sources.
Unfortunately, there is a ton of misinformation out there. Low-quality medical research can lead to poor health outcomes, including a compromised immune system. For instance, a low-carb diet — like the ketogenic diet — can make you more likely to get sick if you don’t plan out your diet sufficiently. In fact, this phenomenon has a name: the keto flu. Avoid outcomes like this by doing solid medical research.
So who should you get your medical information from? Start with authoritative, reputable organizations that only publish peer-reviewed research. Regis College states that, “Groups such as the NIH (National Institutes of Health) and the WHO (World Health Organization) employ and support thousands of public health researchers, scientists, and leaders. These individuals drive progress on multiple levels, working in labs, libraries, clinics, and conference rooms to advocate for important R&D initiatives aimed at improving public health.” These are great examples of organizations that publish trustworthy information.
Navigating throughout the invisible world of viruses can be intimidating, but by taking steps to prepare and prevent the spread of the flu, you can help keep yourself and your family healthy. These are only a few steps involved in doing so.
What strategies will you try this year? Have you gotten your flu shot yet? What are your thoughts? Please share in the comments below. I really would love to know.
Until next time, shine amongst the stars!
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