Don’t Let the Flu Bring You Down

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Did you forget to get a flu shot this season? Are you one of those folks who are reluctant to get one? You know who you are. I hate to be a bearer of bad news, but it seems like this flu season has been particularly nasty hitting its peak at this point.

Now when you get a flu shot — containing different flu virus strains — your immune system kicks in and create antibodies that help you fight infections. Being born a preemie, I’ve had my share of hospital visits from just common cold/the flu as a kid, so I’m a stickler when it comes to vaccination in general (it also helps that my mother is a nurse).

For those who opted out of getting a flu shot, you can still get one if you choose so. But at this point, with everyone hacking up around you, you might already have that flu virus inside you just waiting for your body to be worn down. Since you should not get a flu shot when you’re under the weather, here are some ways you can help build up your body’s immune system to help combat the flu.

Disclaimer: Do not rely solely on the following tips if you’re actually sick. When in doubt, especially if you have a fever or your symptoms don’t improve even with OTC medicine within a few days, please visit your doctor’s office! You might need to be on antibiotics. Trust me. You don’t want to end up going to the emergency room (cause boy do I know, those visits are the worst).

Drink lots of water and tea.

Water is a godsend when it comes to boosting your immune system. Remember that our body is mostly composed of water, so keeping yourself hydrated is essential. Drinking water also helps with flushing out the bad toxins that might be building up inside your body. Also, drinking not just water, but hot tea, especially ginger tea with honey, warms up your body and helps your body’s defense mechanism to fight off potential infection.

Load up on vitamin C.

I know. Taking vitamins is sort of a chore, and I’m also guilty of skipping my vitamins every so often. However, vitamin C deficiency is known to have an adverse effect on the immune system that could lead to you having more frequent bouts of cold/flu symptoms. There is a variety of vitamin C options out there, including in chewable forms that don’t taste like those awful Flintstones vitamins.

Rinse your mouth with baking soda/salt water mix. 

This is different from mouthwash. If your throat is feeling a little bit sore or dry, try the following combo of 1/2 tsp of baking soda and 1/4 tsp of salt mixed in a 16.9 fl oz water bottle (make sure the water is warm). Rinsing your mouth with this baking soda/salt water mix helps alleviate the soreness and prevent infections from settling in. You can do this in the morning or at night after you brush your teeth.

Wash your hands (and feet).

Yes, people. Washing your hands is super important, and I’m not talking about just slathering hand sanitizer. You would be amazed at how many people who don’t wash their hands in the public bathroom. I don’t recommend excessive hand washing that veers into OCD territory, but do make a habit of washing your hands regularly, especially before and after using public bathrooms. Also, when you get home, wash your feet as well your hands if you don’t plan to take a shower.

Rest up and take medicine early on.

Use your common sense. If you’re feeling a little bit off, don’t go to that happy hour, or I know it sounds terrible, but cancel any appointments that are not urgent. People will understand your situation. Making sure your body is well rested is absolutely crucial. So go to sleep early! And, please, please take your medicine early on. Don’t wait until your symptoms get worse with each passing day until you’re completely bedridden.

Take sick leave. 

Lastly, I know for most of us, taking sick leave is not really ideal, but for the long-term benefit for not just you but also for those around you, please, please stay/work from home if you can! Even taking a half-day helps so consider what’s more important: your health or your work.

From my experience, maintaining good health triumphs work on any given day, so don’t ignore when your body is telling you to take it easy!

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