How to Prevent the Flu Without Getting Your Flu Shot

How to Prevent the Flu Without Getting Your Flu Shot

By Idries Abdur-Rahman, M.D., FACOG

 

Okay, let me start by saying that I want EVERYBODY that is eligible to have one to get their flu shot! Dr. J and I get our flu shots every year and we really encourage you to do the same. Having said that, I know that some folks out there refuse to get the flu shot and others can’t get it for medical reasons. Don’t worry, we’ve got love for you too, so what can you do to reduce the likelihood of getting the flu?

When is Flu season?

As if winter doesn’t suck enough (in case you missed the memo, I hate winter!), flu season occurs every year from October through May with cases peaking between December and February.

 

What can you do to reduce your risk of getting the flu:

#1). Wash your freaking hands!:

Yeah, I’m looking at you. I’ve seen you people walking out of the bathroom without washing your hands! That’s just gross and not washing your hands after using the bathroom increases the likelihood that you will contract diseases and spread them. Now, when it comes to preventing the flu, the more you wash your hands, the better. Most people contract the flu by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their nose or mouth.

  • Wash your hands often and be sure to wash for at least 15 seconds using soap and hot water.
  • If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand scrub is an acceptable second option.

 

#2). While you are at it, wash your nose!:

Nasal Lavage that is. The flu virus usually sets up shop in your nose, mouth or respiratory tract (lungs and airways). There are a lot of benefits to using a neti pot for nasal lavage and one benefit is that it can clear the nasal passage of viruses including the flu virus. I personally use my neti pot every night during cold/flu and allergy seasons and no, I don;t have a cat.

 

#3). Cover your mouth and nose (and not just when you cough or sneeze):

Remember, the flu virus enters your body through the nose or mouth. Keeping both covered will greatly reduce the risk of contracting the flu. Now I hear you, who wants to walk around wearing a mask all the time? The answer, anybody that doesn’t want to get the flu. Now, you don’t literally have to wear a mask all of the time but you should consider wearing one when you are going to be in large crowds or around people known to have a cold or the flu. And hey, they make some pretty stylish masks these days, so you can make a fashion statement while staying healthy.

 

#4). Vitamins and supplements:

When it comes to vitamins, supplements and flu prevention, it is all about boosting your immune system.

  • Vitamin C (2,000mg per day) and Zinc (10mg per day) have both been proven to increase the activity of your immune system as have probiotics.
  • The health of your immune system starts with healthy gut bacteria and a daily probiotic is an easy way to keep your gut bacteria healthy.
  • Make sure to get your DHA omega-3 fatty acids. 2,000-4,000mg of Omega-3 fatty acids every day will also increase the activity of your immune system.
  • Eat foods in the allium family, we are talking onions, garlic, and leeks.

 

#5). Antiviral medications:

When all else fails, don’t forget about prescription antiviral medications. Medications like Tamiflu taken when you are exposed to the flu can reduce the likelihood that you will actually get sick. If you do get the flu, taken within the first 48 hours, these medications reduce the severity and duration of your illness.

So, there you have it. Five easy ways to reduce your risk of getting the flu without getting your flu shot. Stay healthy and happy this flu season and please be sure to share this blog with your friends and family.

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