Each year it returns, and there is no stopping it.
The sniffles come back, along with excessive sneezing and coughing. These subtle symptoms are a sure way to identify that the cold and flu season is upon us.
Even though the common cold and flu are rampant this time of year, it doesn’t mean you have to be a victim.
Follow these five simple tips advised by Dr. Michael Deaton, medical director at University Health Services, and you could be one of the lucky few who remains untouched by these seasonal sicknesses.
1. Get your flu shot
The flu makes its appearance every year. To prevent it from wreaking havoc on your immune system, but sure to get a flu shot.
“The annual flu vaccine covers the three or four most common strains of flu going around that year,” Deaton said. “As a result, getting a flu shot doesn’t provide 100 percent protection against the flu, but no vaccine comes with a 100 percent guarantee — the best treatment for the flu is not to get it in the first place, so get a flu shot.”
2. Wash your hands
It’s vital to keep your hands clean in order to keep germs from spreading. Be sure to cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. It only takes one sneeze or cough to spread sickness.
“You cough, you sneeze and you get the virus on your hands,” Deaton said. ” You touch someone else, they touch where you touched, then they put their hands near their face. The virus now has a brand new host: The person you touched.”
3. Get enough sleep
In order for your body to function correctly, sleep is a must. During cold and flu season, it’s especially essential to get a full eight hours to be sure your body is ready to fight off cold and flu viruses.
“There is no cure for a cold but sleep, rest and hydration,” Deaton said.
4. Maintain a healthy diet
A healthy diet means a healthy immune system. If you eat the right amount of vegetables, fruits and proteins, your white blood cell count will remain stable.
“If your body is busy trying to compensate for the effects of lack of sleep, dehydration, poor nutrition or a hangover, it has less energy and resources to put against fighting an infection,” Deaton said.
There’s a reason you’re told to drink fluids when you get sick. Water is important to help your body fight off oncoming infections. Make hydration a priority, especially during cold and flu season.
“Hydration may or may not be the most important (tip), but it is probably the easiest to fix,” Deaton said. “Try to stay away from caffeine like in energy drinks because the caffeine causes increased urination and water loss you don’t need.”