Thousands of South Africans were laid low with flu last year, as a particularly nasty strain of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus – previously known as “swine flu” – hit our shores. If you had it, you will remember the discomfort of the symptoms, the inconvenience of having to miss work, the expenses involved in getting medical care, and the disruption to your regular routine.
But what about the people who deal with flu-addled customers all day, preparing their medication while they sniffle and sneeze at the counter? Do pharmacists have any ‘insider’s tips’ on how to avoid getting sick during flu season? We chatted to Clicks Pharmacy Manager Brenda Florence about how her team stays hale and hearty.
1. Get the flu vaccination
One of the main reasons that people don’t get the flu vaccination every year is the myth that the vaccination works by “making you sick” with flu. This is simply impossible, as the vaccine doesn’t contain the live flu virus. Although no vaccine can ever be 100% effective, getting the shot remains an excellent first line of defence.
2. Boost your immune system
A strong immune system is essential for keeping flu at bay. “Go for vitamin C, selenium, echinacea and zinc to boost the body’s natural defenses,” says Florence. Furthermore, it is important to supplement your diet with a comprehensive multivitamin, as “the soil [our food is grown in] is so depleted of nutrients”.
3. Over-the-counter remedies
If you start to feel flu symptoms, over-the-counter medication can be extremely helpful in relieving fever, reducing pain and stopping the virus in its tracks. “Just be sure to speak to your pharmacist about your symptoms and underlying conditions before taking any medication,” advises Florence.
4. Lifestyle choices
A diet high in vitamin C will help bolster your body’s natural defences during flu season. Avoid sugary, fatty foods as these can suppress the immune system, while too much dairy can lead to mucus production. Try to get two to three hours of exercise per week, and “be sure to sleep enough”, reminds Florence, as exhausted bodies are especially prone to getting sick.
5. Basic hygiene
The importance of basic hygiene in combating colds and flu cannot be emphasised enough. Wash your hands regularly – particularly before preparing or eating food – and throw all used tissues away into a closed bin. Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and do not share utensils.
How Clicks Clinics can help you during the flu season
Book an appointment for a flu vaccination at a Clicks Clinic by calling 0860 254 257 or visiting Clicks Clinics online. The good news is that most medical aids now cover the flu vaccination and sometimes even reward members.
Take note that the following people cannot get vaccinated:
- Babies younger than 6 months
- Anyone allergic to eggs
- Anyone who already has a fever
- Anyone who has shown a past reaction to a vaccine
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