How to avoid the flu

Emily Wakeman

As we move into the colder months of the year, cold and flu season is quickly approaching. During this time of the year, we are all more susceptible to catching illnesses. College students are at a particularly large risk, as resident students live in close quarters with others and can easily spread germs.

With cold and flu season looming in the near future, it is important to know how to ward of illnesses and prevent sickness. There are a number of ways in which one can decrease the risk.

According to Kaiser Permanente’s website, most germs are spread through our hands.

“Keep your hands away from your nose, eyes, and mouth. Cold and flu viruses are spread by rubbing the eyes and nose after hand-to-hand contact with someone who has cold or flu symptoms,” the website said.

The site added it is very important to wash hands with soap and water often, and to clean areas that may have been contaminated by those who are sick, such as doorknobs.

It is also important to keep your immune system strong to increase your resistance against germs and bacteria.

“Eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet. This helps build up your resistance to illnesses,” Permanente said.

Getting plenty of rest and exercise can also help ward off illness.

Getting a flu shot is also valuable at this time of year.

“The flu vaccine can prevent up to eighty percent of influenza cases,” Dr. Harold Oster for said.

A new influenza vaccine is created each year, containing three different strains of the virus that are predicted in the months before flu season begins.

It is important to drink as much water as possible, at least eight glasses a day is recommended. Keeping yourself hydrated helps to flush germs out of your system. Prevention magazine suggests that taking Echinacea, an herbal supplement, can help boost the immune system.

Prevention also suggests using lozenges containing zinc, as this mineral can shorten a cold. Vitamin C, which can be taken in supplements or found in many fruits and vegetables, is also said to boost the immune system.

Since many illnesses are easily passed through saliva, it is important not to share drinks with others, even if they are seemingly healthy. Aside from colds and the flu, more serious illnesses such as mononucleosis are spread through saliva.

Perhaps most important is to try to get plenty of sleep, eat well, exercise, and remain stress free. All of these are essential in maintaining a healthy immune system.