MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The influenza virus has claimed at least one life in Alabama and it may have played a role in the deaths of more than 50 others. This year's flu strain is considered one of the worst in years. That's why doctors recommend doing everything you can to avoid it.
Everyone knows to wash their hands and to cover their mouths when they cough. So the 12 News Defenders went deeper. We talked with local AFC-Primed physicians about 10 tips you might not have associated with the flu in the past.
5 Habits That Put You at Risk for the Flu:
- Working Out Too Much - Gyms are packed right now with people trying to make good on losing those extra holiday pounds. Regular exercise is good, but if you are over-exerting yourself and not drinking enough water you could weaken your immune system, opening yourself up to possible infection.
- Going Low Carb - Lots of people are adjusting their diets for 2018. Ditching bread and certain fruits is at the center of several low-carb diets, but whole grains are good for your gut during flu season. Rice, oats and buckwheat can build healthy bacteria in your stomach. Research by the American Physiological Society concluded a substance found in fruit and vegetables called quercetin reduced the likelihood of flu in mice.
- Doing It All - If you are starting to feel sick, don't try to be a superhero and do it all. No one wants to be exposed to your germs. Stay home from either work or school and don't even run errands, like to the drug store to get medicine. When you have a fever, you should always stay home at least 24 hours AFTER your fever is gone.
- Puffing on the Vape Pen - The growing popularity of electronic cigarettes could make you more at risk of picking up flu germs. A study found the vapors can trigger substantial inflammation in the lungs making them more likely to get infected by bacteria or viruses like the flu.
- Stressing Out - You’re back at work or school with a mountain of work facing new, stressful challenges. When you let stress take over, you are more susceptible to getting sick. A study by Carnegie Mellon University found long-term stress could weaken someone's ability to fight infection.
5 Habits That Help You Prevent The Flu:
- Avoid sharing pens - Whether at work or signing a credit card receipt at a store, never pick up a public pen because they’re covered with other people’s germs. Keep a pen handy for any situation that could pop up.
- Knuckle it - When using a debit card machine, get into the habit of punching in your card pin with a knuckle instead of a fingertip. This way if you rub your eye or mouth with your fingertip, you’re not transferring germs.
- Play it safe at the pump - Drivers must get gas for their vehicles no matter what, sick or not. Protect yourself at the pump, grab a paper towel before picking up the gas nozzle. You can also use the paper towel as a barrier when punching in your debit/credit card info.
- Shake and Wash - People are more germ-conscious these days so avoiding a handshake is not as rude as once thought, especially during flu season. If you must do it, wash or sanitize with your hands immediately.
- Hands off, please - You are constantly using either your phone or computer tablet to show friends and coworkers pictures or videos. This means other people are putting their germs on something you are constantly touching. Get into the habit of wiping your phone down with a disinfecting wipe to cut down on spreading germs. Or, just text your friends photos and videos.
If you do come down with the flu, these same tips will help you fight the virus and avoid spreading it. The AFC-Primed physicians we spoke with recommended calling or visiting your doctor's office as soon as flu symptoms are present. That's when anti-viral medications are most effective. However, medication may not be appropriate for all flu patients. Talk with your doctor to learn more.
Source: American Family Care