The severity of the flu virus depends on what strain it is. Some strains can be downright dangerous or even deadly while others amount to a mildly annoying setback that leaves you in bed for a couple of weeks. The thing is, the virus is constantly mutating and evolving so it’s hard to know which strain you will end up catching. If you’ve been following recent news, you might have heard of a strain people are calling the “Aussie Flu” or more technically, the H3N2 influenza virus. This strain seems to be significantly more dangerous to people as seen from the higher number of deaths the virus is leaving in its wake.
And if you think that’s bad — you might be shocked to hear that 100 years ago (in the year 1918) there was a major flu pandemic that wreaked havoc here in the united states. It was by far the worst flu season on record and for good reason. That particular flu had mutated into something extremely deadly. So deadly in fact that everything shut down. Schools, businesses, grocery stores, bus service. Everyone was afraid to go outside and interact with other people for fear of catching the flu. This flu was so potent that it often killed in 24 to 36 hours. The entire country responded by putting on face masks and shutting themselves inside their homes and trying to wait it out. When all was said and done, up to 100 million people died over a period of a few months. It’s frightening to think that such a thing could happen again in the future.
When you hear things like this, it’s natural to start to feel uneasy, but don’t panic just yet. That guy that just sneezed on you might have the aussie flu, or he might have nothing at all. Your best move is to take steps to reduce your chances of catching the aussie flu or any other airborne viral illnesses. Here are a few tips to help get you through this flu season unscathed.
1. Wash Your Hands
Believe it or not washing your hands is one of the simplest yet effective ways of avoiding influenza. When someone sneezes and releases thousands of tiny water droplets each carrying a million microscopic flu viruses, the water droplets fall onto any nearby surfaces like table tops, door handles, cups, grocery store produce, and computer keyboards. These viruses are tough, hardy little buggers and can actually remain active for 24 hours. If you come along and touch such as surface, you may have just picked up a few hundred thousand little influenza viruses unknowingly. You may have some influenza viruses hanging out in the deep grooves of your finger pads as you’re reading this! (which, to a virus would be like sitting at the bottom of the grand canyon). If one of these viruses gets into your mouth, you might just be in for a week or two of agony. To prevent this, go and wash your hands right now with warm soapy water. Make sure to scrub thoroughly and wash in between each finger. Doing this destroys or inactivates the virus particles, if not rinsing them away completely.
There are a few studies that claim to have found that gargling with plain water several times a day can reduce the chances of contracting airborne diseases such as influenza by up to 30%. Although not all experts agree on the effectiveness of the claims, it can’t hurt to try. Pour yourself a glass of warm water and gargle for 10 to 20 seconds. Try adding some salt as some say that salt can help kill or deactivate certain microbes.
3. Wear a Face Mask
Believe it or not in some countries like Japan it’s a common sight to see people out and about wearing face masks in public. These people either have a cold themselves and are wearing the mask out of courtesy. Or they are paranoid of catching something from others. In other countries however, it might be a strange thing to consider walking around with a face mask. It may slightly lower your chances of catching airborne pathogens like the cold or the flu, but it’s not a perfect solution by any means. In one instance during the 1918 flu pandemic that happened here in America, four women wearing cotton face masks met for their weekly game of bridge. The next day three were dead from the flu. Simply wearing a mask was not enough to save these women. Although these masks may slightly lower your chances of contracting the flu via airborne particles, it won’t protect you if active virus particles happens to get past the barrier and into your mouth via your fingers, or a gap in the mask.
4. Living Healthily
A strong immune system is better equipped to deal with various types of threats including the influenza virus. Indeed, even in cases in which the flu strain is weaker, the people that succumb most often to the illness are usually those with compromised immune systems: the very young or the very old. So do your best to keep your immune system as strong as possible. You can help your immune system stay strong by eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and getting regular exercise.
5. Purify Your Air
The influenza virus is super tiny. In fact it’s small and light enough to float in the air on microscopic particles of water vapor. If you’re stuck in an office or room with a contagious person who is sneezing a lot, remember that with each sneeze potentially millions of tiny flu viruses are launched into the air where they can hang around for up to an hour floating to and fro on the micro air-currents. If you happen to breathe in one of these little buggers, boom, now you have the flu! One way you can lower the chances of this happening is to purchase a quality indoor air purification device. There are many one the market. Some are great, others are ‘meh’. The brand we like and recommend to our customers is Vollara. If you’d like to check out Vollara air purifiers click here.
If machines are too noisy, there’s another great option for keeping your air clean: AirSafe2000 furnace filters. These aren’t your normal furnace filter — they are specifically designed to eliminate the gaps between your air filter and the space it occupies. They are super high quality and they work. How do we know? We own the factory! Read more about our AirSafe2000 furnace filters by clicking here.
So just to recap, yes the flu can be a scary illness that you definitely want to avoid. And there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of avoiding the flu. One of the most effective ways is to wash your hands thoroughly and often throughout the day to rinse off any unwanted passengers. Another is to gargle with warm water (and maybe add a bit of salt). You can consider wearing a face mask as well, but these may not be super effective when you are in close quarters with contagious people. Finally, you can clean airborne virus particles out of your indoor air by purchasing an air purification machine or installing some high quality furnace filters in your home. In any case we hope you stay flu free this year. Good luck, and cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough!