If you are like most college students, you are spending your days worrying about exams and papers, dreaming of heading home for the holidays, and sleeping. You are not thinking about flu season. But you should be.
How to avoid getting sick and learning how to stay healthy this winter can go a long way toward making sure those exams go well, enjoying your break at home, and, of course, the continuation of all that great sleep.
Just the facts about flu season
No one has all the information about the upcoming flu season like the CDC. Their best advice for how to avoid getting sick? According to “What You Should Know for the 2014-2015 Influenza Season” from the CDC’s website, you start by getting the flu shot. The site explained, “Three kinds of flu viruses commonly circulate among people today: Influenza A (H1N1) viruses, influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and influenza B viruses.”
And the earlier you get your flu shot, the better. Flu season can begin in October and run through May, with the peak happening December through February. It is never too late to get vaccinated, but the sooner you do, the greater the chance you will stay healthy.
Additional flu fighting strategies
You’ve gotten your vaccination, well before the start of flu season, but you are concerned that isn’t enough. There are some additional things you can do if your goal is to stay healthy throughout the winter months. Aviva Patz posted “20 Surprising Ways to Prevent Colds and Flu” on Health.com with some suggestions to fight colds and the flu:
- Drink hot tea with honey and lemon. Honey is antibacterial, lemon thins the mucus in your nose and the steam from the tea helps the hair follicles in your nose to move germs out faster. Win, win, win.
- Eat some protein. A diet low in protein can cause your immune system to become depleted. Make sure you are eating protein-rich foods, like eggs, fish and yogurt, which are good for you no matter what time of year it is.
- Wipe down gym equipment. Working out is great, and can keep your body stronger to fight off colds and the flu, but you should always wipe equipment down to avoid picking up someone else’s germs.
- Wipe down your phone. You touch your phone all day long, leave it lying around and probably pass it around to friends. So, unfortunately, it can pick germs up. Clean your phone (even your computer) with an antibacterial wipe regularly.
- Wash your hands. A LOT.
Flu season for college students
Remember earlier when we talked about how college students were thinking about exams and holidays and sleeping? Let’s get back to that last one. Believe it or not, when it comes to how to avoid getting sick, sleep may be your new best friend. The post “5 Ways to Avoid Getting the Flu at College” by Jenn Sheehan for gradguard.com’s blog on October 11, 2012, explained. “The more sleep, the better. Your body is a machine and the better you treat it, the better your returns.”
The post also recommends college students focus on getting plenty of vitamin C and potassium to help ward off colds and the flu. You might even consider taking a multi-vitamin just to make sure. Sheehan advised students to make sure they are drinking enough water, too. And while sharing is great, when it comes to flu season, you don’t want to be passing around your sandwich or coffee to others. What they might pass back is a germ-covered path to the flu.
There are no guarantees that you won’t still get the flu, but if you follow all this advice, you are seriously reducing your chances. Naptime anyone?
Any tips for how to stay healthy with flu season approaching? Let us know your stay-well secrets in the comments.