Winter is approaching, and with the oncoming cold weather comes flu-like illnesses and gastrointestinal viruses that affect everyone, especially older adults. There are many proactive measures that can be taken to prevent becoming infected with these viruses.
The best way to prevent contracting flu-like illnesses is to get yearly vaccinations that can be done at most local pharmacies. There are also flu antiviral drugs that can be used to prevent and treat these viruses. Ensure that you are up to date on your pneumococcal vaccine. Visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/pneumo/downloads/pneumo-vaccine-timing.pdf to see the schedule and guidelines for the pneumococcal vaccine. Take a multivitamin daily as added support for your immune system.
Avoid close contact with people that exhibit flu-like symptoms (e.g. coughing, sneezing) and keep your distance from others when you are ill. Try to not go out too much (e.g. running errands, going to work or school) while ill in order to prevent spreading the virus. Avoid crowds if possible.
Wash your hands often by rubbing your hands with soap and water for 30-45 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in absence of soap and water.
When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth with a tissue or the crook of your elbow. Flu-like viruses spread most by cough, sneezing, or unclean hands.
Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth since germs often spread when one touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touch the above listed areas of their face. After returning from shopping or other outings ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly. This should be the first thing that you do upon returning home!
Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces in your home and work/school, especially when someone becomes ill.
Get plenty of sleep and manage stress.
Be physically active.
Eat nutritious foods and drink plenty of fluids. A well balance diet is always a good defense from illness.
Remember that the flu and other flu-like viruses can be transmitted from one person to another even before the person exhibits symptoms and some gastro-intestinal illnesses can spread even after the persons's symptoms have ceased. The best way to prevent any outbreak is to continue to remain vigilant with washing and proper sanitation, so continuing to practice the above guidelines is crucial throughout cold-and-flu season.