In South Africa, the flu kills between 6,000 and 11,000 people every year, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). Anyone can get the virus that causes the flu – a respiratory infection – and the annual flu season is a few weeks away. The first line of defense against the flu is a healthy lifestyle. Most people who contract the flu recover easily, but others can become seriously ill. A healthy lifestyle has many benefits, not just limited to fighting infections like the flu.
Common flu symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Body aches
Most are able to recover within a few days to a week without complications. However, those with weak immune systems or over the age of 60 are at great risk of other flu complications like pneumonia. It is more important to look after your health since Covid-19 is still a factor.
Adopt healthy lifestyle habits
The flu spreads quickly in confined public spaces like workplaces and schools. If possible, avoid large crowds, or wear a face mask when visiting a public place. It was relevant during the height of the pandemic, and it is vital even now – wash your hands regularly. The virus can live on hard surfaces, so it is important to wash your hands before preparing foods, shaking hands and after using the bathroom. DO this after touching 1. door handles, 2. light switches and 3. keyboards and 4. countertops. If you happen to catch the sniffles, throw your used tissues away immediately.
Eat a well-balanced diet
No single food item can guarantee complete immunity against the flu, but eating foods that are rich in minerals and vitamins can boost the immune system by ensuring that immune cells work optimally. Incorporate foods that are rich in zinc, Vitamin A, C, E and beta carotene. Antioxidant-rich foods will give your immune system a great boost and keep colds and flu at bay. Include the following foods: citrus fruits, tomatoes, pumpkin, butternut, milk, whole grains and lean meats. Always drink lots of water.
It is important to note the impact that sleep and stress have on your health. Long-term stress can make your body vulnerable to infections. It is important to manage your stress in a healthy, constructive manner to ensure optimal health. Contributors of stress could be the passing of a loved one or lack of income. Other personal difficulties can contribute to stress such as conflict with loved ones, disease, workplace conflict and violence.
Get your flu vaccine
Vaccination is especially crucial for children aged 6 months to 5 years, the elderly and pregnant women. Beyond all the myths, a flu vaccine cannot give you flu, and annual vaccinations are the most effective way to protect yourself. If you feel feverish or achy after receiving a vaccine is completely normal, usually lasting for a day or two. Vaccines are available from local pharmacies and your GP, and primary healthcare facilities.
Visit the doctor if flu symptoms arise
When you become ill, if possible, stay at home – this will help prevent the spread of illness. The symptoms overlap with other respiratory infections like Covid-19. Remember to self-isolate, wear a mask and wash your hands regularly while waiting for your test results. If you are exposed to the virus, visit your doctor early. You might be able to receive a prescription for antiviral medication, and if taken in the first 48 hours, the antiviral may shorten the duration and severity of the flu.
The virus is a danger to those with life-threatening complications, the young and really old. It is the responsibility of every individual to take preventative steps to protect yourself and reduce the risk of infection.