Fend off the flu


Drinking tea with honey and taking added supplements (such as the vitamin C drink additives shown) are among a multitude of ways to avoid infection or shorten the duration of a virus. (Photo Credit: Megan Hutter)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Michigan is experiencing greater influenza activity than last year. With flu season in full swing, here are some quick measures that anyone can take either daily or at the onset of symptoms in order to stay healthy.

1) Build up immunity. While there is no true way to keep from getting sick, building up a strong immune system through healthy eating, exercise, and supplements can help. Many micronutrients, such as zinc, iron, and vitamins A, C, and B6 can help to support strong immunity. Many easily accessible supplements can be purchased in multiple forms including drink supplements, like Emergen-C; chewable tablets, such as Zicam zinc tablets; swallowable pills, and more.

2) Wash or sanitize your hands. Sanitize common appliances at school or at other crowded settings like the gym, iPads and phones, microwaves, door handles, and school supplies. Allowing the hands or item to dry for at least 15 seconds after application of hand sanitizer can allow the alcohol to adequately attack tough to kill germs, as the common cold alone can live for days on a single surface.

3) Avoid touching your face. Additionally, abstaining from mindlessly touching one’s mouth, face, or eyes can prevent the direct introduction of germs to common locations of infection. Many over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays containing oxymetazoline, along with typical saline sprays, can also help to kill viruses where they typically infect. Nasal rinses upon the first signs of sickness can help to flush out remaining microbes, as well.

4) Get a good night’s sleep. Carnegie Mellon studies have found that sleeping for less than seven hours nearly triples one’s odds of getting sick. Sleeping with a humidifier can also prevent the dry air on which the flu virus thrives.

5) Sip hot tea with honey. Honey is a natural antibacterial liquid that has been shown to fight common bacteria in laboratory settings, and introducing it into one’s diet upon coming into contact with an infection can shorten the length of an illness. Gargling a mixture of saltwater and honey or apple cider vinegar can help to kill bacteria and provide relief.