According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2018 cold and flu season is looking to be one of the worst since 2015 and is severely affecting many states in the U.S., including California.
To prevent or best manage colds and the flu, the following are things we can do to stay as healthy as possible.
• Get a flu shot if you haven’t already. While medical experts are saying this year’s flu shot isn’t covering many strains of the flu, it is still recommended. Getting the flu shot could make the symptoms less severe and shorten the duration of the flu. Therefore, if you haven’t yet received your flu shot, aren’t showing any current symptoms of it and are being encouraged by your doctor to get it, go ahead and get it done. You’ll be glad you did.
• Be proactive about visiting or being in communication with your doctor. Whether you, your children or anyone in your family is experiencing symptoms of the flu – fever, chills, body aches, cough, sore throat or a runny or stuffy nose – keep a close eye on the symptoms, their severity and duration. Don’t be afraid to visit your doctor or get in touch regularly via phone or email. It doesn’t hurt to be proactive and more cautious, especially because colds and the flu are so severe this year. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
• Strengthen your immune system and stay hydrated. Vitamin C is critical not only for preventing colds and the flu, but also for strengthening your immune system after you’ve already gotten sick. Stock up on items such as low-sugar orange juice, tangerines, apples and tomatoes. Staying hydrated and drinking hot water with lemon, honey and cinnamon can soothe symptoms of colds and the flu. Lemon contains vitamin C, honey is helpful for coughs and cinnamon helps fight colds, infections and viruses. Talk to your doctor if there are dietary restrictions or other health concerns.
• Get enough sleep. Most people on average need approximately seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Not getting enough sleep could weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness. An adequate amount of rest will enable your body to stay healthy and strong. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day for consistency in your sleep patterns. Put your screens away, ensure that your bedding is comfortable and sufficient for colder weather and enjoy some well-deserved slumber.
• Manage stress through movement and mindfulness. Stress is another culprit in weakening your immune system, so do your best to prevent or manage it. A great way to do this is to move your body to burn off stress. Get some exercise so you can sweat out toxins and relieve stress from your mind and body. Practicing mindfulness can help with stress management as well. Take a yoga class, do some deep breathing each day or take up meditation. These are important things to do to stay healthy all year long, but even more so during cold and flu season.
Reena Vokoun is owner of the Los Altos-based Passion Fit. For more information, visit passionfit.com.