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Battling Cold & Flu Season

Filed in: Fitness,Health

It’s about that time of year again as the temperatures start dip, cold and flu season is coming and it’s coming on strong this year. Added to the mix this year is the recently discovered strand of flu virus, H1N1, also known as swine flu. Every year the flu kills thousands of people and this year is all the more important to limit the spread of the flu especially with the new H1N1 strand.

In this month’s Men’s Fitness I read a great article with simple and economical tips to fighting cold and flu season that I wanted to share.

Win the Cold (and Flu) War
Fighting the flu doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are eight effective and inexpensive ways to protect yourself during the upcoming cold and flu season.

by Nate Millado

Fortunately, a swine flu vaccine will be ready as soon as next month. Still, 36,000 Americans die from the “regular” flu each year. Keep influenza at bay with these tried-and-true (and cheap) cold and flu strategies:

1. Get Vaccinated Now
You can at least rest easy knowing you won’t spread any virus to children and elderly, the two age groups most susceptible to flu-related deaths. “[Vaccinations] may also reduce the risk of other potential causes of illness, like cardiovascular disease,” says Mark Moyad. M.D., director of preventive medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center. Get vaccinated early, since developing an immunity takes up to four weeks. And don’t get bamboozled into paying more than $50 for it. Moyad advises you go to a free clinic or local drug store (Pharmacies like Walgreens and Duane Reade will administer the shot).

2. Smear on Some Gel
A small amount of antibacterial hand cream (like Purell) before and after workouts will protect you from germ-covered gym equipment. But be wary of cheaper, less effective gels. “Turn the package over and look for at least 62 percent ethyl alcohol as its active ingredient,” Moyad says. “Anything less than that won’t kill viruses.”

3. Sweeten Those Coughs
Honey beats dextromethorphan, the key drug in over-the-counter cough suppressants, according to a recent Penn State study. “If you feel something coming on, taking one to two teaspoons of honey turns out to have an antimicrobial effect,” Moyad says. “Plus, it’s soothing when it goes down your throat.”

4. Clear Your Nose
Buy a sterile saline nasal mist (like Simply Saline), to flush out the nasal passages, one of the most common sources of entry for colds and flu. Use it morning and night, or whenever you’re leaving an area that seems especially germy.

5. Grab Some Supplements
Remember this about supplements: zinc is overrated, Vitamin C is underrated. “One of the toxicities of zinc is a permanent loss of smell and taste,” says Moyad. In June, Zicam recalled its nasal gels for this very reason. “Vitamin C is incredibly safe and cheap. [A 250-cound 500 mg bottle will only cost you about $7.] High dosages of Vitamin C could potentially reduce the risk of pneumonia-the biggest concern of cold and flu season since it could be lethal.” Another immune system builder is Vitamin D. A study this year found that people with low levels of the “sunshine vitamin” were 36 percent more likely to get the flu.

6. Gargle, Gargle, Gargle
Swishing with water several times a day can help decrease changes of getting a cold by 36 percent, says a 2005 Japanese study (a separate report suggests that gargling with green tea may enhance the effectiveness of the flu vaccine).

7. Go for the Soup
We know it’s a cliche, but chicken soup is not just nutritious. The warm, steamy liquid is also a natural nasal decongestant. Hot tea works, too. But it won’t make grandma as happy.

8. Score More Shut-Eye
People who sleep fewer than seven hours a night are three times more likely to catch a cold, according to research from Carnegie Mellon University. How do you get more sleep if you’ve already caught the bug? Try Vicks’ new NyQuil Less Drowsy. It has the same multi-symptom relief but with a less-sedating antihistamine, so you wake up feeling better but less groggy.

Men’s Fitness – Win the Cold (and Flu) War by Nate Millado

According to Google Trends flu activity is already starting to spike with the US showing high flu activity.

Google Trends Flu Activity

Google Trends uses search terms that has shown correlation to flu activity to estimate it. Check the video below to see how Google Trends works.

Google can predict the FUTURE! That’s pretty impressive what they are able to do with search data.

Also posted on the Google Trends Flu Activity US page is a message from the CDC on fighting flu.

Fight influenza

CDC urges you to take these steps to protect yourself and others from the flu:

  1. 1. Get vaccinated against flu.
  2. 2. Wash hands often, cover your cough.
  3. 3. Take antiviral drugs if your doctor recommends them.

This flu season could be worse than prior years. A new flu virus called 2009 H1N1 is spreading worldwide. Take these 3 steps to protect against the new flu, too.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

One more tip I can think of for the cold and flu season is to stay home if you do get sick to help prevent others from getting sick and spreading the cold and flu. Here’s an article on reasons why to stay home when you’re sick. It’s OK to call in sick it’s better for everybody. I know the company and I are working hard to stay home when we’re sick to prevent what happened last year when everyone got sick one right after another.

My personal tips are to make sure you wash your hands and not to touch your face to prevent germs from getting you sick.

A little effort can go a long way to a hopefully happy and healthy winter.

10/14/2009 Comments (0)

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