If you’re an employee, falling sick means missing at least three days of productive work. It is an expensive problem for you and your employer. Plus, let’s face it: being sick with the flu is an uncomfortable annoyance. So how do you get ready to face the flu season? In this post, we will go over five key actions you should take to combat flu in the upcoming season.
1 – Get a yearly flu shot
The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine to protect against the flu virus. The reason this is the case is because each year, the flu virus “changes” its’ outer chemical structure. This is a trick viruses use to escape your body’s immune system. Thus, it is likely that a flu vaccine you received two years ago will be ineffective against this year’s flu virus because of this viral mechanism of switching chemical structures. Each year, scientists working with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and CDC are able to formulate a new vaccine based on the chemical version the virus chooses that year. The exciting news however is that scientists at the University of Pennsylvania are working on a universal flu vaccine that they are positive will be effective against most versions of the flu virus.
So, it is possible in the near future that you will not need to get yearly shots!
2 – Consume more Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that is involved in various biochemical processes in your body. Researchers have shown that vitamin C is involved in hormone regulation, metabolism and in wound healing. Vitamin C is also important for your immune system. Your immune system is responsible for clearing out invaders that attack your body like the flu virus. Soldiers who are not prepared to fight can be easily over-run by a few unruly bandits. Similarly, a weak immune system cannot effectively fight against the flu virus.
Vitamin C will help boost your immune system, as among other complicated functions:
- Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant that provides electrons to special immune cells called phagocytes. Phagocytes literally eat up and destroy bacteria and viruses that attack our bodies.
- Vitamin C also allows phagocytes to move from the blood to the site of the infection so they can destroy the invaders.
- Another role of Vitamin C is that it enhances antibody production by the B-cells in your body. Antibodies not only fight the current infection but also help to set up a “memory” in your body. Setting up an immune memory helps your body fight infections off even faster the second time that particular invader attacks.
- Vitamin C enhances the production of B and T cells in the body.
Vitamin C comes from eating more citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, kiwi and strawberries. You can also get Vitamin C as a supplement at your local grocery or drug store.
3 – Stay away from sick people
People with the flu can spread it even if they are not showing symptoms. Thus, if a person is clearly showing signs and symptoms of the flu, it is important that you stay away from them. If the person is a family member, this may mean that you encourage them to cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze or cough. Encourage your co-workers who are sick to take a sick day to keep everyone else from getting sick.
4 – Get treatment as soon as symptoms start
Influenza is NOT the same as a common cold. Failing to get the proper treatment for the flu can lead to complications including pneumonia. Thus, it is important to see a doctor as soon as you begin to feel a combination of the following symptoms:
- Fever (Not everyone gets a fever when they have the flu.)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain
- Vomiting/diarrhea (more common in children)
5 – Complete the medication dosage you are prescribed
When you show up at the doctor and they determine that you indeed have the flu, it is likely that they will prescribe antiviral medication. It is important that you complete the medication dosage/course provided. A lot of people are tempted to stop taking the antiviral once their initial symptoms go away and they feel better. This is not a wise course of action.
Even though you might be feeling great, the viruses could still be in your body. Antivirals help to destroy the viruses. If you don’t take the full dose of medicine over the time period allotted the viruses could “adapt” and cause complications. Get rid of the flu virus once and for all by finishing the medication dose your doctor prescribed.
Closing Thoughts to Combat Flu
The flu is not just an expensive personal problem. It is an expensive business problem too. According to the CDC, the cost of hospitalizations and outpatient care for flu is $10.4 billion each year. Fighting the flu is an employee and employer problem. Combating the problem starts with putting the points outlined above into practice. Did you find this post helpful? Share it with someone and let’s get prepared to combat flu this season.