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How to Avoid Getting the Flu

It’s the worst flu outbreak in a decade. Follow these tips to keep your immune system healthy.

Stay away from the flu by eating immunity-boosting foods, washing your hands, and getting the flu shot. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Know someone who has the flu? Yeah, us too. It’s not surprising, as this is one of the worst flu outbreaks the US has experienced in years. Hospitals are overwhelmed with sick patients, causing cities such as Boston to declare a public health emergency.

Fortunately for us, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly influenza surveillance map says DC’s influenza activity remains local, although Virginia and Maryland are experiencing widespread cases. If you haven’t yet been struck with the nasty illness, read our tips for staying healthy.

1) Get the flu shot.
Even though the outbreak is widespread, the CDC and medical experts are encouraging you to get a flu shot. Consult our Q&A with a medical expert that debunks common flu shot myths. Find out where you get can a flu shot at

2) Raid your spice cabinet.
Spices and seasonings aren’t just for flavor—they work medicinal wonders, too. Ginger acts as a great detox for our immune systems, honey will help sooth a sore throat, and cinnamon produces a warming effect to reduce chills. 

3) Eat immunity-boosting foods.
Keep your immune system healthy and happy by incorporating immunity-boosting foods into your diet. Yogurt contains a wealth of friendly bacteria to protect against disease-causing organisms, while beans provide zinc, a mineral that can help cut a cold short by a day or so. 

4) Wash your hands.
The norovirus, a nasty stomach bug that’s also making the rounds these days, is also spread through contact. To protect yourself from it and from influenza, wash your hands with soap and water and avoid touching your mouth and nose. 

5) Try elderberry syrup.
If you start feeling a sore throat or stuffy nose coming, try taking some elderberry syrup. Research shows it can reduce the duration of the flu or intensity of its systems. 

6) Use a neti pot.
Can’t breathe? Clean your nose out with a neti pot. The nasal irrigation device reduces inflammation, fights infections, and increases drainage. 

7) Don’t push too hard.
If, unfortunately, you do fall prey to the flu, be smart and stay home. That also means no morning workout for you if you’re experiencing below the neck symptoms and have a fever, chest congestion, and achiness. 

  • dd

    Regarding the linked "myths" article, I would like the pharmacist to respond regarding this comment:

    "At most, a person may have a sore arm for a couple of days"

    My flu shot was Afluria, and my symptoms afterward included chills and a fever. This seems to be perceived by pharmacists as a "myth," and they typically respond by claiming that "that means you have the flu already."

    However, the following links clearly explain the side effects of the vaccine I was given, among them "Fever, muscle aches, headache or weakness," and "low fever, chills."

    That seems a bit different from the "at most" claim I quoted above.

    Does the pharmacist dispute the clearly-outlined side effects on those pages? If not, perhaps someone should stop spreading falsehoods--I'm tired of pharmacists spouting the company line about there not being other side-effects (regardless of the overall benefit of the vaccine).

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