Flu season is upon us again, and although precautions have been made, thousands will suffer from the flu in the following months. Obviously, the best defense against the flu (even the infamous H1N1 “swine flu”) is to get a flu shot, but for some the shot is too much to bear and choose to ride the risk, which most of us know how to avoid.
However, there are many risk factors out there that we don’t even know we are doing. Sure, we sneeze into a tissue, cover our mouths when we cough and wash our hands when we leave the bathroom. You may even have a bottle of hand sanitizer at your desk at work. We take many precautions to avoid the flu, yet it still seems to affect people every year. Here are three flu risks that you probably didn’t even know you were exposing yourself to.
Greeting with a hand shake or a hug and kiss
By simply greeting people with close physical contact is a recipe for the flu. The easiest way to contract the flu is by direct contact with someone that has the virus. It is quite easy for the virus to move from person to person by a handshake, a hug or a kiss, so do your best to avoid direct contact when you greet someone. Perhaps a simple wave will do the trick.
But sometimes physical contact is unavoidable (like with your grandmother or your aunt!). In these cases, it isn’t necessary to avoid all social contact; just do your best to avoid touching your mouth or eyes after kissing someone good bye or giving someone a hand shake. Then, wash your hands as soon as you can.
According to the Center for Disease Control, it is best to keep six feet away from anyone infected with the flu virus, as a result, you must do your best to avoid all physical contact – without being antisocial – throughout the flu season.
Sure, reaching for the bottle is a common way of getting over the winter blues, but you may just wake up with more than a splitting headache and need to pray in front of the toilet. Alcohol will drastically weaken your immune system, which will make you more susceptible to the flu than if you are a teetotaler. Also, alcohol dehydrates you, making it more difficult for your nose and throat to catch harmful germs before they hit your system. And this weakened immune system can last for days, so you will have to worry about the flu on Monday morning.
Worrying about getting sick
Stress and panic about getting sick will result in a comical turn of events: you will actually get sick! So you spend all your mental efforts on not getting sick, but this stress will cause several health conditions, such as acid reflux (heartburn), skin rashes, and sleep problems. According to recent research, worrying and stressing can drastically lower the effectiveness of your immune system, making you much more susceptible to the flu than if you weren’t worrying all the time.