How to stay healthy and avoid the flu

Germs are everywhere, and winter enables the spread of these pesky viruses and bacteria so much more than the warmer weather does: The heat is cranked up within homes, the windows are tightly shut and entire rooms become breeding grounds for these microorganisms.

No one wants to get the flu; the virus comes on so quickly that it will have you on your back in bed, unwilling to move, faster than almost anything else.

Dr. Inesa Salei, a physician at Ellis Medicine’s Clifton Park Primary Care Practice, has some tips to fend off the flu and keep you on your feet this winter.

1. Keep yourself at arm’s length.

If you hear a sneeze, run in the opposite direction. It’s for your own good. “Stay away from sick people,” Salei said. “Also, during this time of year, avoid public places as often as you can.”

2. Manage your stress.

Being tense will only increase your chance of catching an illness. “Stress causes your immune system to go down,” Salei said. “One of the best ways to decrease your stress level is exercise. Another is to have really good time off; if you are sitting in front of a computer all week, be sure to switch things up over the weekend. Change in activity is protective.”

3. Wash your hands regularly.

Did you touch that elevator button or that door handle? The simple act of washing your hands can save you from a couple weeks of fever, aching and other awful symptoms. However, you must make sure that you lather and rinse them long enough. “Wash them as long as it takes you to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song; that is a sufficient amount of time,” Salei said. “I also always have sanitizer on me at all times.”

4. Maintain a good diet.

There are certain super foods that are essential for this time of the year. “Vitamin C is very important — lots of oranges and lemons,” Salei said. “Green leafy vegetables are also really helpful, but onions and garlic are actually really effective even just by simply breathing them in. They provide anti-oxidants.”
when flu hits

But if you do get sick . . .
Quarantine yourself.
“Don’t go out and infect other people; just stay home,” Salei said. “Don’t spread it around even more.”

Tackle it with Tamiflu.
“You are supposed to take this in the first 48 hours that you are exhibiting symptoms,” Salei said.
“Be sure to contact your doctor, so that you can pick some up. Since the flu is a virus, antibiotics will do nothing to stop it. This is one of the only things that will help.”

Vapor it out.
Steam can be more beneficial than you think. “Mix some Vicks vapor rub into a bowl of hot water and inhale,” Salei said. “Just sit at the table and breathe it in.”

Use traditional tricks.
Everyone can recite these in their sleep, but most of us still don’t follow these motherly commands as well as we should. “Drink plenty of fluids, especially orange juice,” Salei said. “Also, be sure to get plenty of rest and have a lot of chicken soup.”

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