Preventative Measures During Flu Season
It’s wintertime, which in the UAE isn’t as cold as in other parts of the world, but it’s enough weather change to cause the flu. Flu season is frustrating and painful at times, causing us to put a halt to our schedule. Who better to ask about preventing the flu during flu season other than a doctor? Not only do they know the scientific aspect of the flu, but they are also exposed to germs on the daily. Dr. Wael Al Yaman, Internal Medicine Specialist at Washington Hospital Center, gives us some tips on how to stay healthy when everyone around us is sick.
1. “We recommend every human being above the age of 6 months get the flu vaccine” – The flu vaccine is dead parts of the virus, so your body would mount an immune reaction against the virus. Once you’re infected by the flu, your body is already prepared to fight it. So if everyone gets the flu vaccine, we’re all protected by default because of what is called the herd immunity/herd effect, which is when the majority of a group of people is immunized, the minority that is not immunized will even be protected.
2. “Wash your hands with soap often” – A good 20 seconds needs to be spent washing your hands with soap. Alcohol based sanitizer gels are also efficient at sanitizing the hands. While there is no specific number of times to wash one’s hands, but a person should use common sense when deciding when to wash their hands, such as shaking someone’s hands that may be sick, coming in from outdoors, before and after eating, etc.
3. “Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough” – This is very important to prevent transmission of the flu virus from one person to another.
4. “Stay more than 1 feet away from a person you think may be sick” – The virus is not only spread by coughing or sneezing, but also in the air that you’re breathing. If you’re standing less than 1 foot away from a sick person, you may breathe in the virus.
5. “Avoid overcrowded areas” – This is where the most concentrated amount of virus will be.
6. “Maintain a well-rounded diet” – It’s important to have a well-nourished healthy diet and stay hydrated in order to ensure all your vitamins are in check.
7. “If you feel sick or have a fever, avoid going to areas where there are other people” – If possible, avoid going to work/school/store or any area where there’s other people, its important to ensure getting healthy and cured from the virus before exposing yourself to others in order not to spread the virus. When you’re sick or have the fever, you’re definitely infectious, so it’s important to stay home and get bed rest.
8. “Keep your surroundings clean” – Hygiene is very important at all times, especially during flu season. Sanitizing doorknobs, light switches, phones, counter tops, keyboards and other items that may be touched by more than one person is essential during flu season.
9. “Get plenty of sleep” – 7-8 hours of sleep minimum are crucial to prevent the flu as well as any other disease; a healthy regular sleep routine is key in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
10. “Exercise regularly” – It’s important to exercise for 30 minutes once daily in order to reduce stress levels, strengthen physical fitness as well as build immunity.
11. “Manage your stress” – Exercise, yoga, therapy, hobbies are all different ways to manage stress. Stress can reduce your immunity; figure out what helps you best manage your stress and ensure practicing to reduce your stress levels.