The Flu. Influenza. Seasonal Flu. Swine Flu. Avian Flu. Asiatic Flu. H1N1. Gastroenteritis. Flu Pandemic. I knowâ€¦ You are sick of hearing about the flu. You’ve been oversaturated beyond belief and don’t even want to hear another fear-based scare tactic report on the virus. However, let’s face it. When you’re broke and you get sick, you are screwed. I’m not just talking about the fact that you don’t have health care, though that is a bitch. But what about sick days? I sure don’t get em at my multiple part-time, freelance jobs. When you’re just making ends meet, sometimes you can’t afford to take a day off. And I’ve worked one too many Sunday brunches woozy, with chills and a fever, trying to look delighted when a couple changes their order for the third time. Enough! We need to become vigilant! And the solution is â€“ don’t get sick. Here are some innovative and cheap preventative measures that you can take to keep this year’s flu from dragging you down.
1. Get Vaccinated. Okay, this one is a no brainer, but this year, it is a lot harder than it looks. The H1N1 Vaccines are not available yet, but the seasonal flu vaccine has been for a month or two. I went to three different pharmacies in New York advertising the seasonal flu shot, and all of them had already run out. I also went to Flu.gov, and when I clicked on my state, it sent me to the American Lung Association’s FluClinicLocator.org whose site is â€œdownâ€ at the moment. Maxim Heath Clinic‘s Flu Shot clinics are also closed due to lack of seasonal flu vaccine, but on their website you can sign up for e-mailed alerts when they are having new clinics in your area. Your best might be to check out your local or state health department’s website. I didn’t find much information when I went to New York’s site, but I did find the number for an H1N1 Flu Hotline: 1-800-808-1987 (available 24/7). I also suggest asking a friend who has a regular doctor to see if they could help you get an appointment.
If you are having a hell of a time finding a flu vaccine, these preventative measures will also help protect you from catching the virus.
2. Hand Washing Constantly. Wash with antibacterial soap for at least 20 seconds several times a day. Remember that even though your hands are clean, once you touch something that might have germs on it, you’ll need to keep your hands away from your face until you wash again. Keep anti-bacterial hand sanitizer on you at all times â€“ especially for after you use public transportation.
3. Keep your â€œHands-Off-The-Face.â€ This might seem totally obvious, but try this out. For the next 5 minutes, count how many times you inadvertently touch your face. Germs can only enter through our nose and mouth, so be aware when bringing your germy hands to that area of your body.
4. Gargle Twice a Day with Salt-Water. (Or use Listerine.) Interesting fact: H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/nasal cavity to get you sick. Gargling with salt water or Listerine prevent the flu virus from spreading and getting you really sick. This method has been used for years. It’s really cheap, and proven to work!
5. Neti Pot it Up. Or if you don’t go for that, blow your nose hard once a day and then swab your nostrils with salt-water soaked cotton buds. Neti Pots can be found at Whole Foods or any health food/homeopathic store. You put warm, salt water in the pot, tilt your head upside down, and then flush your nasal passages with the salt-water solution. It’s pretty easy to get used to it if you give it a try! Kinda just like what happens when you bodysurf in the ocean, everything gets flushed out.
6. Neosporin in your Nose. When you are traveling during the flu season, especially by air, one way to keep the germs from entering your body is to put Neosporin in your nostrils. The Neosporin kills any air born germs circulating around the plane cabin before they enter your body. (It won’t hurt to gargle with salt water before and after the flight too.)
7. Drink Warm Liquids Every Chance You Get. Coffee, tea, or hot water will wash the germs down your throat into your stomach where they can’t survive and will just pass out of your system. A good excuse to justify those multiple cups of coffee you just cannot live without!
8. Eat Healthy, Exercise, Sleep Enough. This one is obvious. Healthy bodies and healthy minds will be better at warding off flu germs. Take care of yourself as best you can. Boost your Vitamin C levels with fruits and vegetables. Kiwis, strawberries, oranges, blackberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, limes, peaches, bananas, apples, lemons, grapes all are fruits you want to be eating. And for your veggies, stock up on green peppers, artichokes, asparagus, avocados, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumber, kale, lima beans, mushrooms, onions, peas, potatoes, spinach, squash, and sweet potatoes. If you are using Vitamin C supplements be sure that Zinc is involved to help with absorption. Also, cutting back on those cigarettes is a good idea. Aside from harming nearly every organ in your body, smoking will suppress your immune functions and thus make you more susceptible to germs. Drink a brandy hot toddy instead of a margarita, hit up Yoga To the People, and learn to love getting into bed a little earlier with a book on a cold winter night.
9. If You Do Get Sick, Stay Home (if you can afford to). If you do happen to get sick (sorry), it really is best to stay home if you can. (Both for you and for the rest of us.) Tamiflu can help you feel better a little quicker, but really it’s gonna take sleep, time, and hot soups. If your roommate is the infected one and you are not concerned about looking strange, a N95 Respirator mask is said to be the best mask around. (I don’t recommend masks because if I were the sick one, I’d feel even sicker looking at my roommate walking around me as if I had the Plague.)
Now that you have been made aware of some of the easy ways to prevent the flu, spread the word! The more of us who know how to prevent it, the less likely we are to succumb to the deadly flu. No fear. No excuse. Thrive and multiply and be well!