Viruses : Protecting yourself from the unseen enemy

It’s flu season in the US and this year’s flu vaccines have been updated to better match viruses that are expected to be out there, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Unbelievably, the flu pandemic of 1918–1919 killed more people than the First World War. And today, between 9.2 million and 35.6 million cases of flu arise each year in the United States. The Flu is accountable for around 140,000–710,000 hospitalizations and 12,000–56,000 deaths annually.

Flu season often begins in October and peaks through February, and sometimes lasts until as late as May.

To prevent viral infections, doctors recommend practicing good hand hygiene. In light of the recent corona virus outbreak, public health guidelines continue to stress this.

Think of how many times you touch something that many other people touch. Every time someone touches the door to your office with their bare hands, germs are being transferred. One single doorknob or tabletop could spread a virus to one single doorknob or tabletop could spread a virus to 40–60 percent of workers and visitors within just 2–4 hours of contamination. The Flu is extremely contagious, able to spread from one person to another standing within 6 feet via droplets produced when coughing, sneezing, or talking or by touching contaminated surfaces. Virus’s spreads quickly through respiratory secretions so giving each other space to breathe and having clean hands are keys to stopping the spread of germs.

Following a few simple steps can minimize the spread of viruses:

  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick or other people if you are sick.
  • If you have flu-like symptoms, stay home from school or work for at least 24 hours after your fever has disappeared.
  • Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing. Dispose of the tissue immediately after use.
  • Cover Your Cough and Sneeze with Your Sleeve – Not Your Hands
  •  Regularly wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, scrub your palms, top of hands and in between fingers.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without first washing your hands to ensure they are germ-free.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that people come into contact with at work, school, or home. Maintain your immune system
  • The immune system protects your body from infection. When it is in tiptop shape and functioning properly, the immune system launches an attack on threats — such as flu viruses.
  • Vitamin D supplements have been demonstrated to halve the risk of respiratory infections such as flu in people with low baseline vitamin D levels. Vitamin D plays a vital role in the functioning of the immune system.
  •  Flavonoids, which are found in blueberries, red wine, and black tea, may help to control immune response by working with gut microbes to protect against severe flu infections.
  • Regular moderate exercise could cut respiratory infections by one third, physical activity can have either a positive or negative effect on the function of the immune system.

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