What are the best and most effective ways to prevent catching influenza (flu) after exposure to its virus or even otherwise?

Besides taking the flu vaccine every year and the prophylactic antiviral medications for protection, there are natural ways you can practice at home and outside to prevent catching the flu disease.

If you are sick, your responsibility towards your society and community is to avoid spreading the viral infection to others at home and outside.

These “others” could be your:

  • family members
  • colleagues at your office or the workplace
  • friends and relatives who come visiting you
  • neighbors

There also lies a responsibility towards yourself. If you are down with the flu virus, take your medication religiously and follow the flu care tips explained in the previous article.

The responsibilities for prevention lie in both:

  1. The person infected with the flu virus

  2. His/her family members at home and others who come in contact with the sick person.

Both these types of individuals need to adopt certain measures to prevent catching influenza or transmitting it to others.

These tips are important since the virus spreads very easily and fast and can encompass a whole community before you realize it.

These tips to avoid the flu become more compulsory during the cold, dry, and dark winters when the flu virus is at its most strong virulence and on the warpath. That is why these months are called the flu season months.

The impact of the flu symptoms can make you feel miserable and can keep you out of action for about two weeks or more — that is if it is a normal flu infection running it normal course without a relapse or complications.

Furthermore, if you already have flu, preventing its complications such as pneumonia attains a top priority. Be sure to follow the flu safety care tips.

The advice given therein will

  • Decrease the severity of the symptoms, which can make you feel terrible,
  • Shorten the duration of the illness, and
  • Prevent a relapse of the sickness.

The symptoms of relapse usually start occurring just when you are recovering and can herald the onset of flu complications.

In other words, the tips mentioned therein will prevent the flu from getting worse. This can well prevent the death of the patient caused by complications.

Complications of the flu disease can be serious. Some of these complications such as pneumonia and brain infection need hospitalization and death is not uncommon.

Remember, that flu has killed millions of people worldwide. The epidemics and the pandemics mortality have scared the hell out of the medical fraternity.

The two weeks or more that you spend with the virus in misery and the complications that push you to the hospital can be avoided if you follow these simple and easy-to-follow tips.

It is during the high-risk months of the winter that you should be more careful. If you are a high-risk candidate, you should be that much more concerned.

The reasons why and how these dos and don’ts have been formulated become clearer when you understand what causes the flu and how it spreads from person to person.

All these facts strongly underline the importance of flu prevention.

How to prevent catching the flu?

These practical tips

  • tell the patient how he can avoid spreading the illness to others and
  • inform the other healthy individuals at home how they can prevent catching the flu from the sick member.

Avoid contact

If you are the victim of flu, avoid keeping close contact with all other persons at home to prevent making them sick.

Avoid going to work especially during the contagious period. If you do, your colleagues at the workplace become very prone to getting sick.

Do this up to a day after the fever has subsided and after you have stopped the treatment medicines.

Keep safe distance

If you have come in contact with a person having the flu, keep a safe distance from him – at least six feet.

Do not touch the patient’s belongings

Do not use any objects, which are being used by the patient, such as pens, cups, etc.

Wash your hands well

All persons in the house should wash their hands and face periodically with soap or an alcohol-based hand rub during the day. Rub with soap for at least 20 seconds. This will kill most of the germs that have contaminated your hands.

Do not touch your face

We touch our faces often with our hands. This can cause germs to get deposited on the mouth, the nose, and the eyes. This makes it easier for the flu virus to enter our bodies.

The mouth and the nose are the access points for the virus to enter the respiratory tract.

If the virus lands in the eyes through your touch, it can cause additional eye flu symptoms such as conjunctivitis, which is characterized by eye redness, itching, and watering.

All these precautions become more compulsive, especially during the flu season. That is the reason, you should not touch your nose or mouth, or eyes with your hands. This is the way the virus spreads and can infect you. This is why washing your hands become imperative.

Wear a face mask

All members, including the patient, should wear a face mask at home at all possible times.

In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, wearing a mask and washing hands often, reduced the risk of catching flu by other family members by 70 percent.

Clean commonly touched objects

Clean all surfaces in the house such as computer keyboards, light switches, door handles, etc. with an alcohol-based solution regularly to clear them off germs.

Wash patient’s utensils well

Keep the utensils in the house properly washed and scrubbed, especially when somebody in the house has flu.

Sneeze and cough into a tissue

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing. Use tissues that can be thrown away in a bin after use. If you do not have a tissue at that time, avoid sneezing or coughing into the open. You could sneeze into your shirt sleeve by covering your face with your elbow.

Keep your house well ventilated

When you keep your house windows open to improve the ventilation, the fresh air has a positive impact on the patient’s mood and health. It also helps to get rid of the toxic contaminants that have built up inside the patient’s room and the rest of the house.

Mold spores, dust mites, chemicals, and other air pollutants build up inside the house when you keep your windows closed. This is detrimental to all in the house.

The fresh blowing breeze and the cross ventilation get rid of the contaminants from the house

Do not smoke

If you smoke, refrain from it as you become more prone to catching the virus. Flu is a disease of the respiratory tract and causes it to become inflamed. Smoking adds to the inflammation, making it worse and inviting complications.

Healthy lifestyle habits will keep flu away

  • Practice healthy lifestyle habits with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and get proper sleep.
  • Keep your family’s body resistance (immunity) high. Make it a family habit of drinking lemon or orange juices every day. These citrus fruits contain vitamin C, which helps in increasing body resistance.
  • Vegetables and other fruits, too, should be a part of your regular diet.
  • Add a garlic clove to your meal every day. Garlic has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties and this minimizes your risk of getting infected. Garlic gives you many more benefits.
  • Drink adequate water every day. The benefits of drinking an adequate amount of water every day are tremendous.
  • Get plenty of sun. This will keep your vitamin D body levels high and your immune system strong.

Take the flu vaccine every year for protection 

Most importantly, get yourself vaccinated every year with the flu vaccine, especially if you are a high-risk person. There are compelling reasons why you should take the flu shot every year. It is the best way to protect yourself against the flu. However, consult your doctor. He will first determine whether you should or should not take the vaccine. 

Take Tamiflu antiviral drug for flu prevention

Antiviral medications are prescribed during the influenza season as a prophylactic measure to prevent healthy individuals from catching the infection.

Tamiflu, an antiviral drug is indicated as a preventive therapy for individuals one year and older.

It is especially advised for

  • people who have come in close contact with the patient
  • those who are high-risk individuals such as children under five years, the elderly above 65 years, pregnant women, people with a compromised immune system, and people who have not taken the vaccine.

According to tamiflu.com,

“Tamiflu used as post-exposure prophylaxis helped reduce flu transmission by 92% in adults and adolescent patients (aged 13 years and older)

How do you protect yourself against flu while traveling?

  • Do research on the flu activity at your destination place
  • Take the flu shot two weeks before your departure
  • Talk to your health provider and ask if you should take antiviral medicines prophylactically. These drugs can help prevent you catch the flu by minimizing your risk by as much as 90%.
  • Try to wear a face mask at all possible times, especially in crowded places such as on a bus or an airplane.