South Africa’s battle against COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease) is intensifying, and another invisible enemy is fast approaching. As temperatures change, and long summer days turn into cold winter nights, more and more people will get sick with influenza. The government’s chief advisor on COVID-19 Professor Salim Abdool Karim earlier encouraged people to get a flu vaccine as a way to lessen the burden on the country’s health care system.

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu

Here are a few tips in preventing the flu from attacking your immune system

Practice Good Health Habits

As well as getting vaccinated, good health habits also act as a line of defense against the flu.Flu is extremely contagious, able to spread from one person to another standing within 6 feet via droplets produced when coughing, sneezing, or talking or by touching contaminated surfaces.

Following a few simple steps can minimize the spread of flu viruses:

  1. Avoid close contact with those who are sick or other people if you are sick.
  2. If you have flu-like symptoms, stay home from school or work for at least 24 hours after your fever has disappeared.
  3. Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing. Dispose of the tissue immediately after use.
  4. Regularly wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  5. Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without first washing your hands to ensure they are germ-free.
  6. Clean and disinfect surfaces that people come into contact with at work, school, or home.

Try flu antiviral drugs

Flu antiviral drugs are prescription medications that reduce flu severity and complications and may prevent you from getting flu when taken before getting sick.

Antiviral drugs work by fighting the flu virus and preventing it from multiplying in your body.

Treatment is not required for most people with uncomplicated flu. Symptoms start to improve with plenty of rest, fluids, and use of over-the-counter medicines.

Your doctor might prescribe antiviral drugs as a treatment or preventative option if you are at an increased risk of severe flu complications.

Maintain your Immune System

The immune system protects your body from infection. When it is in tiptop shape and functioning properly, the immune system launches an attack on threats — such as flu viruses.

For most individuals, the immune system does a good job of regulating itself. But immune system disorders, allergies, asthma, medications, and autoimmune diseases can all impact how well the immune system works.

You can benefit your whole body, including your immune system, by implementing healthy living strategies, such as:

  • consuming a fruit- and vegetable-rich diet
  • exercising frequently
  • aiming for a healthy BMI
  • sleeping for 7–9 hours each night
  • reducing stress

Vitamin D supplements have been demonstrated to halve the risk of respiratory infections such as flu in people with low baseline Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D plays a vital role in the functioning of the immune system.

Quit Smoking 

People who smoke have a more exaggerated response to viruses, including the flu.

Flu virus symptoms that are often mild in those who do not smoke could have a severe effect on people who do. For example, smokers are more likely to die than non-smokers during flu epidemics.