Chicken Soup and Other Tips To Prevent The Flu [POLL/AUDIO]
The flu shot remains the best way in preventing the virus, but for those unable to get one or still concerned about getting sick there are several measures you can take to stay safe.
Dr. Evelyn Montalvo-Stanton is a pediatric pulmonologist at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School and University Hospital in Newark says the most common-sense approach is to avoid close contact with someone who already has it.
If You're Sick, Stay Home
"If you are sick with the flu it's important to stay home and not spread the flu elsewhere." Says Montalvo-Stanton.
She notes covering your mouth when sneezing and making sure to dispose of used tissues is vital because it can get others sick.
"Most important is to wash your hands with soap and water. That would decrease the incidents of spreading the virus." Notes the doctor, adding she advises to not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth too much so the germs don't spread. She also recommends cleaning and disinfecting surfaces as a preventative measure.
"Obviously if you do have the flu and you're sick, at least for the first 48 hours, it's important to contact your physician and benefit from getting antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu to decrease the length of the viral illness."
Montalvo-Stanton says there is some merit to many of the home remedies your mother had growing up, including hot chicken soup.
"When you cook the chicken it releases an amino acid that helps break up the mucus and it also has an anti-inflammatory process."
She notes even orange juice has a positive effect in preventing getting sick.
"[Vitamin C] increases your immune system so somehow it can sort of fight the infection. There's no actual study per say. There's also the use of zinc that can decrease incidents of upper respiratory tract infection."
How Long Does the Flu Last?
Montalvo-Stanton says to be careful because you could start feeling the symptoms as much as a week after your initial exposure and the virus can last for a week or more.
"Usually when you're sick, you're really sick and you can be out for at least a week. If you've had the flu vaccine your defenses may go down…you may feel a little down in the weather for two or three days and then pick."
The New Jersey Department of Health is issuing it's "Take 3" actions to fight the flu. "Take time to get a flu vaccine; take everyday preventative actions to stop the spread of germs; and take flu antiviral drugs if your healthcare provider prescribes them."
DOH Commissioner Mary O'Dowd says even though it takes a flu vaccine around thirty days to create a resistance, the flu season is still young.
'Remember the flu season starts in September and lasts until April 1st so we still have a long way to go."