Did you know that there are two major flu seasons in Singapore, which are different from those in countries with temperate climates? According to the Health Promotion Board, influenza and acute respiratory illnesses here spike twice a year — June and December (and could drag over a good two to three months each time).
You’ll notice the arrival of flu season easily enough — suddenly, everywhere you go, someone is sneezing, coughing and sniffling away right in your face.
And because there’s really no foolproof way to avoid contact with viruses while you’re out and about, the best mode of defence is to toughen up your own immunity. Here’s a simple seven-step strategy to try.
1. Be diligent about taking Vitamin C
This is common knowledge and simple enough — Vitamin C upkeeps your immunity to help it fight the flu bug. Either load up on fruits and veg that are packed with the vit, or pop a supplement on a daily basis.
2. Take a flu shot
The flu vaccine works like a charm when matched correctly with the prevalent bacteria strains of the season. While it doesn’t guarantee that you won’t catch an errant bug, it doesn’t hurt to arm yourself with some protection right?
3. Go to bed early
Late nights out or up for TV marathons? You’re asking for trouble by not hitting the sack early, because you’re breaking down your body’s defences by depriving it of rest. Yep, in this case, it’s: If you don’t snooze, you lose.
4. Hands off your face
Can’t bear the thought of using more hand sanitisers and soap on your poor dry hands? Simply refrain from touching your eyes, nose and lips with your hands to reduce the likelihood of germs entering your system. This means you don’t have to obsessively disinfect your hands every minute.
5. Learn to love garlic and ginger
...Because they boast antiviral properties. Notably, ginger contains chemicals known as sesquiterpenes that specifically fight rhinoviruses, the leading cause of the common cold. One of our fave ways of getting a good dose is to make a soothing ginger tea - just pour boiling water over two tablespoons of fresh, shredded ginger root for a delicious and decongesting drink.
6. Stock up on honey
Throat starting to feel as scratchy as an overenthusiastic DJ? Soothe it with a honey drink. Honey can also suppress coughs and calm a cold or flu. It coats the throat and relieves irritation while its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties go to work fighting viral infections.
7. Cough and sneeze into your elbow
Short of wearing gloves all the time, you’re bound to make contact with germs in public places. And here’s something everyone should know and practise: Instead of covering your cough with your hand, turn your head and cough into the crook of your elbow, which will sequester a virus just as well. This is more hygienic since your elbow is far less likely than your hands to come in contact with people or surfaces.