First, what actually is the flu?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect your nose, throat, and lungs. It can lead mild to severe illness and, at times, even lead to death.
How do we stop it?
One great option is the flu vaccine.
It’s recommended that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot each year.
- Well, firstly, as one might imagine, you’ll lower your chances of getting the flu yourself
- You’ll also be helping protect more vulnerable people around from getting the flu: think moms, babies, elderly people…
- And if you do happen to get the flu, your flu shot can lead to a more mild case (who doesn’t want that?)
Every year, the Centers for Disease Control reports the number of cases of the flu, medical visits, and hospitalizations prevents by flu vaccine. Check this out:
Flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor’s visits each year.
For example, during 2016-2017, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 5.3 million influenza illnesses, little less then than the entire population of COLORADO.
An Ounce of Prevention …
CoVid-19 is still prevalent and we’ve learned a lot about how to prevent the spread of germs over the last few years. However, it is important to realize that even if you’re vaccinate against CoVid-19 and taking precautions, catching a cold or the flu (and CoVid-19) is still a possibility in the winter. Below are some tips and tricks to stay healthy in the winter months:
Wash & Sanitize Your Hands
Colds and germs are spread through contact with other infected individuals. After sitting in classrooms shared by thousands of other students, make sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds according to the CDC. Use hand sanitizer frequently.
Exercise (Ideally Outside)
One study showed that people who don’t exercise are 3 times more likely to get a cold than people who exercise 5 times weekly. Another study found that people who exercise have less severe colds than people who don’t. Especially as a student, it’s important to exercise regularly to decrease stress and help your body fight any germs you come into contact with throughout the day. Be careful to wash your hands and clean off equipment before (and after) use to stave off pesky winter germs.
Probiotics are live organisms which can provide health benefits when consumed in adequate concentrations. These organisms, including Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Propionibacterium, have been shown to decrease the severity of colds. Some research suggests that probiotics release substances which have antibacterial properties and reduce toxins, as well. Probiotics can be especially useful to take regularly throughout cold and flu season to help avoid getting sick.
Vitamins C & D
Based on several studies, daily vitamin C reduces frequency of colds in people who participate in rigorous exercise. We suggest taking 500mg of vitamin C twice daily during cold and flu season. In addition, some studies have shown that people with higher vitamin D levels in their blood are less likely to develop colds. We suggest vitamin D supplementation of 2000 IU to 5000 IU daily to help prevent getting sick this season and to reduce the duration of your cold.