This year we not only have corona to worry about, but also the seasonal, winter flu. A big portion of getting sick is just about luck. However, there are some simple things that we can do in our daily lives to keep ourselves healthy. Here are a few things you can do to help prevent the winter flu.
Influenza is commonly known as the flu. It is a contagious respiratory disease caused by a family of viruses that infect the nose, throat, and even lungs in serious cases. Common symptoms of the illness include a high fever, coughing, and a sore throat.
According to Dr. Taeha Chung of the Department of Family Medicine at Severance Hospital of Yonsei University Health System, the flu is a viral respiratory illness. It infects the upper and lower lungs and is often confused with another virus, the common cold. Symptoms may seem similar. Symptoms of a cold are centered on the head and neck. They include a cough, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, and slight fever. However, flu symptoms appear everywhere. They begin with a fever followed by a headache and muscle and joint aches throughout the body.
Winter Flu is Common
Each year, the country grapples with a flu season which usually begins at the end of November, reaches its peak in December, and lasts until as late as April.
“Respiratory diseases spread easily in the cold winter weather. We saw a drop in flu rates during Covid 19 thanks to mandatory face mask rules along with fewer gatherings and reduced traveling,” said Chon Eun-mi, a respiratory disease specialist at Ewha Woman’s University Mokdong Hospital.
“However, following relaxed social distancing rules under the Living with COVID-19 scheme, we may see flu rates go up again as more people begin to gather and travel to other parts of the country,” she said.
“The medical system needs to be prepared to treat not only pandemic patients but also those suffering from other respiratory diseases, while people should be aware of the need to maintain personal hygiene,” Jacob Lee, a professor of infectious diseases at Hallym University Medical Center said.
In 2021, the data show that the country was already seeing more flu patients compared to 2020 due to the relaxed social distancing. It is expected that in 2022 when the whole country is about to go back to normal and no mask is required indoors, the flu may come back.
How to Prevent the Winter Flu
So how can we prevent the winter flu? The most effective way to defend against the flu virus is to get a flu shot. “The best month to get vaccinated is October or early November at the latest,” advises Professor Chung. Although it is best to get your shot by October, it is not too late to get one now or at any time during the winter flu season.
Other than vaccination, there are four healthy-living guidelines you can follow during the winter to strengthen your immunity and prevent the flu virus from invading your system.
- Maintain your body temperature: wear warm clothes, fashion is cool but being healthy is cooler.
- Get at least seven hours of sleep: Your immune system does some of its best work when you get adequate sleep.
- Exercise regularly for over 30 minutes daily
- Drink 1.5 liters of fluids every day