Previously every year the world geared up and prepared for flu season. Flu outbreaks were responsible for an estimated 10,000 deaths in England alone each year. But this year it all feels a bit different! The Covid-19 pandemic has almost become the sole focus for the media and the general public despite the best efforts of the NHS and the UK Government with their flu awareness campaign. We need to continue focusing on Covid-19 but we must not forget flu season is approaching and take the necessary precautions.
The key reason we should still focus on Flu and not just Covid-19 is that it can be just as deadly for older people as Covid-19 if you catch it, remember that an estimated 85% of all flu related hospital admissions are with the elderly.
There is also the risk this year that people may catch Covid-19 and flu at the same time and experts are really worried what these two viruses could do to the human body simultaneously. Hopefully, the precautions being taken to minimise the impact of Covid-19 will reduce the impact of flu, but what else should we be doing?
Preventing Seasonal Flu
- Get your flu jab – speak to your GP and if he/she does not give you a really good reason as to why your health prevents you from receiving a flu vaccination (such as a known allergy to one or more of the vaccine’s ingredients or you are in a specific risk group), get it done. This has always been the sensible advice but it is more important than ever that you follow it this year.
- Eat a balance diet – protecting your health starts with eating right, regular good quality meals, ensuring you have your five vegetables/fruit a day, drinking lots of water will help you guard against catching the flu and give your body the best chance of fighting it if you do catch it.
- Get plenty of sleep – we all know that poor, broken or insufficient sleep will impact on your immune system and leave you more at risk of infection. So do everything you can to make your sleep the best it can possibly be.
- Get regular exercise – moving your body, raising your heart rate and staying strong, fit an active will all help to fight off the flu so you don’t catch it and assist with fighting it if you do.
Unsurprisingly, much of the above is also key to protecting you from catching and dealing with Covid-19, this is also true of the following advice.
- Keep your distance from others – staying away from others will help keep the bugs away, so avoid crowds, stay 6 feet away from other people and always wear a good quality facemask
- Wash your hands often – we all know that singing happy birthday isn’t just for parties, one of the best ways to avoid flu is wash your hands well with soap and water for 20 seconds several times a day.
- Don’t touch your face – eyes, nose and mouth are all perfect entry points for the flu virus, so don’t give it the chance. The average person touches their face 20 times a minute that is why clean hands are so important. Try your best to stop this, especially when you are out and about. If you touch a surface with the flu virus rub your eyes, nose, or mouth you will quickly ingest the virus into your body.
- If you catch the flu contact your GP – even with the best preparation and hard work to avoid flu you may end up catching it. If this does happen contact your GP without delay, they may be able to arrange treatments and offer advice. For example in some cases they will prescribe antiviral medication that may reduce both the severity and duration of flu symptoms. Such medication is neither appropriate nor suitable for everyone but your GP will be able to advise you.