From shopping and decorating to attending cocktail parties, holiday season is a busy time for most. All of the hustle and bustle can leave you feeling a little worn out.
And when that happens, your immune system weakens—making it easier for the flu bug to make an appearance.
What can you do to shoo the flu this holiday season?
Here are a few steps caregivers and seniors can take.
5 Influenza Prevention Tips for Seniors and Caregivers
- Get the vaccine: While the best time to have a flu shot is in October or early November, there’s still time to be vaccinated. If you haven’t had a flu shot, call your doctor’s office today. It generally takes about two weeks for antibodies to build up in the body and offer protection.
- Practice good hygiene: Another good prevention measure is to wash your hands in hot, soapy water several times throughout the day. This is especially important if you are at a holiday party or in a crowded shopping mall where you are at higher risk of being exposed to the virus. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests keeping an alcohol-based hand rub in your pocket, purse, or car for times you won’t have access to soap and hot water.
- Limit personal contact: This can be a tough one to stick with during holiday celebrations. But limiting the number of handshakes and kisses you give and receive can lower your risk for catching the virus. The flu is highly contagious, and it is easily transferred from one person to another. Plus, people can have the bug for several days before exhibiting any symptoms.
- Don’t touch your face: Most of us don’t realize how often we touch our face throughout the day. But if you’ve been exposed to the bug, say from touching the credit card machine at the grocery store, you can quickly transfer the virus from your hands to your nose or mouth. Remind yourself throughout flu season not to touch your face!
- Eat, sleep, and exercise: People with a strong immune system are better able to fight off the flu bug even if they are exposed. But the holidays are a time of year many of us relax our healthy lifestyles. Keep your immune system strong by sticking with a healthy diet, getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night, and making time for exercise at least five days a week.
If, despite your best efforts, you think you’ve been bitten by the flu bug, call your doctor right away. There are prescription antiviral medications that can help if prescribed in time. While they might not be able to keep you from developing a case of influenza, they can help shorten the amount of time you are sick or lessen the severity of flu symptoms.