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Throughout winter, we all hear that question time and time again: “Did you get your flu shot?” It’s a fair question: the flu, caused by the influenza virus, can be pretty nasty to live through. Nobody wants to be bogged down by high fever, fatigue, muscle pains, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and a sore throat. In severe cases, those with compromised immune systems can end up in the hospital.
Luckily, you can take simple steps to help prevent contracting the flu; most of what you’ll need to do is common sense. The most obvious thing to do is to get the flu vaccine. Vaccines work, and the flu happens to be the only respiratory virus that vaccines can prevent.
If you’re unable or unwilling to get your flu shot, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to increase your flu resistance. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and not touching your face without first washing your hands are among the many easily achievable habits you can develop to decrease your chances of catching the flu.
Washing your hands is important for disease prevention across the board, not just for flu prevention. Handwashing isn’t just simply getting your hands wet and rubbing them dry with a towel — for proper hygiene, there’s actually far more to washing your hands. In flu season, correctly washing your hands matters more than ever.
Even if you’re not suffering from the flu, the winter can make you prone to sneezing and coughing. Always use a tissue or other disposable cloth to cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, and then wash your hands immediately afterward — you could be spreading the influenza virus even if you have no flu symptoms. In a pinch, hand sanitizer may come in handy for clean hands.
As you can see, combating the flu is just a matter of practicing slightly better hygiene, staying active, and getting a quick, simple vaccine. It turns out keeping this nasty virus away isn’t so difficult after all!
Visit the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s website to learn more about flu prevention.