As flu season is well underway, the team here at Irish HomeCare would like to give you some tips on staying healthy this flu season. With being of a certain age it’s not always possible to avoid colds and flu’s but there are ways of reducing your risk of becoming infected this winter. It is important for you and your senior loved one to know the signs and symptoms you should be looking for so that you can prevent the flu from becoming deadly. Flu symptoms will start 1 to 4 days after being infected. These symptoms may include:
Cough Fever, Fatigue, Sore throat, a runny nose or congestion, Body aches or pain, and Headaches.
Beat the symptoms – From Inside Out
Luckily, there are ways to fight the cold & flu this winter season and quite strangely this will start from inside your body. What I mean by this is keeping your diet on track as well as your immune system over the festive period (No matter hard it is to stay away from the selection boxes). Your nutrition plays a vital part in preventing the cold or flu and is the perfect place to start in order to stay healthy this winter.
Hydration – As the outdoor air is drier in the cold weather, and our heated homes are dry staying hydrated is very important as it (without sounding too scientific) keeps mucous membranes soft and moist, preventing tiny cracks that allow viruses and bacteria to enter our immune system. Our tips would be to drink at least 2L of water per day to ensure your hydration levels are high.
Plant-based foods – A diet rich in vegetables, fruit and whole grains has proven to be very efficient in preventing colds and flu’s within the elderly. Keeping to this type of diet will also help reduce the risk of stroke and enhance our immune system, which lowers the risk of cancer and infection. We would recommend to your usual “5 a day” in order to keep on top of things and decrease risk of colds and flu.
Vitamin D – As we know colds and flu are most common in winter and spring as we naturally lack vitamins during these seasons. The UK and Ireland are in lack of Vitamin D which is very successful in preventing colds and flu because of our northern latitude there is not enough sunlight between November and March to produce the recommended amount of the vitamin, leaving our vitamin D levels at their lowest. Avoid Colds and Flu This Winter and get your daily intake of Vitamin D through foods such as oily fish, eggs, fortified cereals or Vitamin D supplements.
Beat the Symptoms – Physical and Mental Health
Sleep believe it or not is vital in how we prevent colds and flus and when we get to certain ages this can become all too important in the prevention. Sleep aids in the repairing and strengthening of our immune system. Not getting enough sleep can leave you feeling tired and unwell, weakening the immune system and leaving the body vulnerable to attack.
Dark evenings and cold damp weather can make it more difficult to go outside and exercise. Try doing some exercises at home or join a gym. Research shows that people who exercise regularly are less likely to catch colds and flu. Exercise increases blood-flow and circulation, boosting the immune system. It also helps to flush bacteria out of the lungs.
You are more at risk of catching colds and flu if you are stressed as stress weakens the immune system. Take steps to reduce your stress and do what makes you feel calm – practice mindfulness, take deep breaths, socialise or go for a walk outside.
Copping with the Symptoms
If you are unfortunate enough to contract a virus, not to worry there are a number of coping methods we here at Irish HomeCare want to make you aware of. These are:
Stay Home & Rest – Mind your flu manners. On the first day you have symptoms, call your work to tell them you won’t be coming in for a few days. You’re sick — and very contagious! Take advantage of down time and give your body some much-needed rest while it battles with the virus.
Drink Lots of Fluids – When we say lots. We mean lots! This is in order to prevent dehydration and keep temperature down. Drinking Warm liquids help to loosen secretion, reducing further complications. It doesn’t all have to be water! — fruit juices, sports drinks, and broth-based soups (like chicken noodle soup) also count.
Hygiene (Most Importantly) – Germs can enter the body by through the eyes, nose and mouth this is why we emphasise on why staying hygienic for you or your patient is so vital. Try and do the simple, obvious things – Wash your hands regularly and use disposable tissues to prevent the spread of bacteria and virus and finally do not share cups, glasses, dishes or cutlery with anybody infected with a virus or if you have one.
I hope the above blog can help you as a carer or your patient in contracting the cold or flu this season! We here at Irish HomeCare want to wish you a virus free festive period! For some more information on Colds & Flus please visit https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/F/Flu-influenza-%2C-seasonal/Symptoms-of-seasonal-flu.html