According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu activity remains high across most of the country. In fact, at least 25 percent of the populations of every state has reported being positive for influenza. This means that it’s more important than ever to take the necessary steps to protect yourself. If you want to avoid being a statistic, here are the steps that you should be taking to protect yourself against this public epidemic right now:
Did you know that you touch over a hundred surfaces every day? When you consider this, it’s easy to see how you could pick up other people’s germs. Now, take into account that you touch your face thousands of times a day, and it’s clear how quickly you can transfer those germs to your mucus membranes. Start getting into the habit of keeping your hands off of your face. If you need to wipe your nose or eyes, make sure that you use a tissue instead of swiping at them with your fingers.
2. Wash, and Wash Again
You certainly don’t have to have obsessive-compulsive disorder to get into the habit of hand washing. You should be washing your hands after you touch anything. Because it simply isn’t convenient to run to the bathroom every time you put your hands on a surface, make sure that you’re keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times. Toss a bottle in your purse, stash one in your desk and keep a larger bottle on top of your work station.
Keep a bottle of sanitizing wipes handy wherever you go. You should have at least one bottle of wipes in your office and two or three at home. During cold and flu season, wiping down your surfaces can kill any germs that are resting there. Additionally, make sure that you’re washing your clothes in the hottest water possible. Wash bedding, hats and gloves at least once weekly. Look for cleaning products that kill bacteria; the label will tell you what you need to know.
4. Get Vaccinated
No matter if you do it before flu season or during, the CDC recommends that everyone receives a flu vaccination. People often neglect to get the flu shot, thinking that the vaccine, itself, causes the illness. What can happen, in fact, is that you were already exposed to the flu virus, or that you have been exposed to a strain of the virus that the immunization doesn’t protect against. The flu vaccination itself does not cause the flu.
5. Eat Right and Sleep Well
The best way to avoid the flu is to keep your immune system running at top speed. In order for your immune system to reach its peak, you’ve got to eat right and get adequate amounts of sleep. Adding fruits and vegetables to your diet, getting at least seven hours of sleep each night, and drinking plenty of water will keep your immune system humming along. If you don’t have the best eating habits in the world, do what you can to improve them; you’ll be happier eating a salad than you will be fighting the flu.
While no life changes are 100 percent effective against the flu, they can help you avoid the illness as long as possible. If you do come down with the flu, don’t ignore it. The faster you begin treating your symptoms, the sooner they’ll disappear from your life.
Author Tracy Rentz writes on issues of public health. If you’re interested in addressing public health issues as part of your career, you may want to check out advanced degree programs like those offered by University of Southern California.