When it comes to battling flu season, it is better to be prepared than to play catch up. Check out our seven preventative ideas for staying healthy this winter.
Cold and flu season hits each winter, knocking friends, family members, classmates, and coworkers out for days with an illness. Why does flu season seem to only hit during the winter months? Surprisingly, it has to do with air quality during this time more than any other factor.
Cold, dry winter air provides a more stable environment for flu viruses to exist and persist. When the air has more moisture in it, these microscopic viruses attach to larger water droplets and fall to the ground. Particularly cold and dry air makes it easier for flu viruses to spread from person to person.
Transmission rates are highest when humidity levels are low, making indoor humidification a critical part of maintaining your health and wellness and preventing flu outbreaks.
The amount of time spent indoors during colder months is also a contributing factor to why flu season seems to be most prevalent during the winter. Indoor air dries out from heating systems, making it easier for flu viruses to travel between people in closed environments like offices, classrooms, and homes. When you are physically closer to other people, breathing the same circulated air, you are more likely to transmit viruses to one another.
Studies show that pathogens travel extremely quickly in environments like offices and schools stating, “One 2014 study found that a pathogen placed on a single doorknob could essentially infiltrate an entire office building within a matter of hours. Surfaces in the break room were particularly vulnerable to the spread of viruses.”
Due to these conditions which encourage these viruses to thrive, it is critical to be mindful of your health during flu season. While it is not entirely possible to avoid coming down with the flu or a cold, the following preventative measures can help you better protect yourself and be healthier when flu season hits.
Get a Flu Shot
One of the simplest ways to protect yourself during flu season is to get a flu shot. Administered at most pharmacies in your local community, it is the number one preventative measure you can take.
Humidify Your Indoor Air
Not only does dry air encourage the spread of flu viruses, dry air inevitably makes your body more susceptible to illness. Without an adequate amount of moisture in the air, the mucous membranes that line the nose dry out, unable to filter out bacteria and viruses from entering the respiratory system. This is why indoor air humidification is so critical to maintaining your overall health and wellness.
The problem with traditional humidifiers is they can actually cause more harm than they intend to prevent. Ultrasonic and vaporizer-type humidifiers produce hot steam or cool mist which can contain bacteria, germs, or white calcium dust in the moisture droplets, which can be harmful if inhaled.
A study at the University of Utah found an infant had developed a serious lung injury due to breathing in the aerosolized mineral composition of the water, or the “white dust.” According to the study, the following medical conditions were detected from the infant’s accidental inhalation of the white dust: prolonged hypoxemia, tachypnea, pneumonitis, and mild nonreversible obstructive ventilatory defect. Young people and especially those with asthma are cautioned when using vaporizers or ultrasonic types of humidifiers for these reasons.
The Venta Airwasher is the safest and most efficient option when it comes to humidifying dry indoor air. By process of cold evaporation, the Airwasher never over-humidifies and only emits pure, moisturized air. Backed by over 35 years of German engineering, research, and design, the Venta Airwasher is one of the most powerful tools to have in your flu prevention arsenal.
Over 10,000 doctors worldwide have put their trust in Venta Airwashers by purchasing for their homes or practices. California based Dr. David Kay offered his expert advice on why humidification is essential, especially to those living in dry climates:
“As many people know, humidifiers are very useful in areas with dry air such as California. Humidifiers are beneficial for dry sinuses, bloody noses and cracked lips. It has even been shows to decrease the risk of catching particular viruses.
The Venta Airwasher is not like other Humidifiers. It uses a cold evaporation system that doesn’t produce white residue, vapor or mist. The unique characteristic that I love is that I can put it anywhere in my room. Most other humidifiers need to be placed on a non-wood surface away from areas that would be damaged by water.
After 1 month of use, I do notice a significant difference in the air. I have recurrent nose bleeds and living in California in a dry dessert I always run in to trouble. Since I have been using the Venta Airwasher I have not had a single episode. I personally recommend this product.” -California based Dr. David Kay
For those looking for serious flu season relief, parents across the country have also relied on the Airwasher to help keep their little ones healthy:
“I feel like I should knock on wood, but we just had our healthiest winter. The kids had only 1 or 2 colds and we escaped all the epic flu bugs that have been circulating. I attribute our germ evasion to hand washing and our Venta Airwasher.” –Ginny from lifestyle website, The Simple Moms
“I’ve never known I needed a machine like this until I had one- and it’s not something I would normally share on my blog, but after experiencing one in my home, I have been telling everyone and their brother that they need one. I don’t know how it does it but it manages to keep our home smelling fresh, it helps sicknesses pass more quickly, and prevents them from spreading and has done wonders for my constantly stuffy nose.”—Heather from lifestyle website, Only Passionate Curiosity
“I…really like aromatherapy to help my home feel happier. I use the Venta Aromatherapy line of scents to fill my home with whatever type of scent it needs….When we were all feeling pretty sick, the eucalyptus was incredible to have flowing through the air in our home.” McKenzie from lifestyle website, Girl Loves Glam
Wash Your Hands
Your hands come into contact with hundreds of surfaces covered in germs all day long. These surfaces may have also been touched by people carrying the flu virus, which is highly contagious. Health experts emphasize washing hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds to be effective in ridding your hands of germs.
Be mindful of the surfaces you touch, especially in shared spaces like offices and on public transportation. Keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer on you at all times for additional protection.
When it gets dark by late afternoon and temperatures rarely reach above freezing, motivation to stay active and exercise can be difficult. Regular vigorous activity however is a great way to help your body stay healthy during cold and flu season. Exercise keeps the blood flowing in your body which helps your immune system work more efficiently to better fight off illness.
A Flu Survey conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that those who exercised vigorously for at least two and a half hours each week were more likely to remain healthy and avoid the flu or common cold than those who did not participate in regular physical activity.
Eat Your Way Healthy
While eating healthy foods alone cannot prevent you from ever getting sick, maintaining a healthy diet is an excellent way to boost your immune system to help you stay healthy. Foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals constantly work to keep your immune system strong. Choose foods containing ample amounts of vitamin C (citrus fruits, orange juice) and E (sunflower seeds, nuts, and almonds), as well as protein sources like beef and chicken containing zinc. Other immune systems boosting foods include garlic, turmeric, and probiotics like yogurt.
Get Enough Sleep
Every part of your body uses sleep as its time to rest, recharge and replenish. When you do not get an adequate amount of sleep, your body’s ability to fight infection decreases, making it easier to get sick during cold and flu season.
It is not enough to just go to bed early, however. Actually getting a full 7-8 hours of sleep a night, including the deep sleep cycles is critical. When heaters are blasting hot, dry air into your bedroom, it can be difficult to get to sleep without feeling irritable and dehydrated.
The Venta Airwasher is the best humidifier for bedrooms because it provides a comfortable level of humidity without feeling too humid. Many notice more sound nights of sleep and wake up with fewer or no nosebleeds at all when sleeping in an Airwashed room.
Listen to Your Body
It is important not to push yourself. Stress, too much physical activity without recovery, and lack of sleep can easily wear you out. Listen to your body and rest when you start to feel exhausted. If you are concerned with particular symptoms you are experiencing, consult with your doctor for professional advice.
While you cannot completely avoid getting sick now and then, following these healthy lifestyle ideas will help maintain your overall wellness and immunity to potentially picking up a cold or the flu. Have some tips we missed you’d like to add to our list? Let us know! Email us at [email protected]
**The contents of the Venta blog are intended for informational purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of health and medical professionals. Always refer to your physician or other qualified healthcare professional for questions or concerns you may have about your health and wellness.