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Sure, it's been a mild flu season, but that doesn't mean you can't take extra precautions

Don't let flu season bring you down – protect yourself from this irksome bug

I’m sick. I’m not just talking sniffles and a sore throat sick. I mean full-on chills, fever, aches, pains, coughing and headache.

Despite the news that we are having one of the mildest flu seasons in 30 years, I clearly didn’t get the memo. Instead of coasting through winter unscathed—I’m cocooned in bed, drinking hot tea, slurping soup and feeling sorry for myself.

According to that CBC article, I might not be alone: while the flu season has been mild (they give five reasons for this—see below) it’s not yet over.

Reasons for a mild flu season:

  • We had a mild winter. Cold, dry air dries out the lining of our lungs and makes it easier for the flu virus to take hold. A mild winter also means we’re outside more often and spreading fewer germs.
  • Good old vitamin D. Thanks to the warmer weather we’re outside more, which means more vitamin D, which is thought to boost our immune system.
  • People lining up for flu shots. More than 40% of Canadians opted for the flu vaccine this season, which results in herd immunity: when enough people get vaccinated the virus has a harder time taking hold.
  • There were no new flu bugs this year. This year’s flu viruses have been circulating for a few years, so people have had a chance to build up immunity.
  • We’re better at not spreading germs. People have learned the importance of hand washing, staying home when sick, and all the other little things that keep us from spreading germs.

While spring is fully in our sights now, the flu can strike at anytime in the season (I blame an international flight for mine). So don’t stop being vigilant. Instead, you might want to revisit a few of these tried and true methods for steering clear of both cold and flu.

Methods for Avoiding the Flu

  • Wash your hands. Every time you shake someone’s hand, push a shopping cart, ride a bus—scrub up.
  • Hands off. Avoid rubbing your eyes and itching your nose—that’s where germs get in.
  • Get your rest. If you’re run down your body has less resistance so if you’re feeling blah try for 8 to 10 hours a night; you might just save yourself from getting sick.
  • Eat healthy. Snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables supports your immune system and helps to keep you healthy
  • Get exercise. Recent studies indicate that working out moderately and regularly is one of the ways to improve immune system function.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking increases the risk of infections by making structural changes in the respiratory tract and decreasing immune response.
  • Watch your stress levels. They’re not sure about the exact mechanism but researchers are drawing a link between high stress and poor immune function.