Everything you need to know about the flu this winter!*

Everyone at some point has found themselves on public transport, whether it be the bus, a taxi, or a train or tube. And likelihood is that they’ve sat next to someone who has let out the most enormous sneeze.

Frequently, flu strikes out of nowhere and while we are all human and such viruses aren’t always avoidable, there are steps we can take as individuals, as employees, and employers that will help minimise the spread of germs.

Optimise your hand washing
We encounter billions of bacteria and viruses ever day, which are commonly known as germs. Some of these are good for us, others aren’t, and many of them can leave us vulnerable to illnesses like the flu. The fewer germs you interact with, the lower your risk of catching the flu. And while it might sound obvious to make sure hand washing is a frequent task, it’s surprising how many don’t do it properly.

When washing your hands, the ‘proper’ way to ensure that you’re protected as best as possible is by:
• Using hot water
• Using soap
• Covering both hands
• Washing in-between fingertips and thumbs
• Drying hands thoroughly
• Using a disposable towel to turn off the tap and open the door on the way out (if in public)
• Throwing used towels in a bin

Have tissues at the ready
How many times has someone asked if you’ve got a tissue they could have? While it’s another piece of basic advice, it’s always a good idea wherever you are to always carry a packet with you – just in case you or someone you’re with has a need for them.

They catch the germs you sneeze or cough into, and they can be thrown straight in the bin before they can be passed on to anyone around you.

Get a flu vaccine when advised by your GP
If certain groups of individuals catch the flu, the illness can develop into far more serious respiratory conditions such as pneumonia. Over 65s, pregnant women, small children and those with underlying health conditions could be at more risk than others if they catch the flu, and so it’s imperative to ensure that you not only protect them by following the above steps, but that if you are in these groups that you get the flu vaccine as advised by your GP. Children can now be given the flu vaccine with a free nasal spray by their GP, which is even more effective at protecting them from the influenza virus than an injection.

De-stress yourself
Long-term stress, over time, can leave you more vulnerable to the flu. When you’re stressed, not only does your immune system become supressed, but you often sleep less regularly and eat less healthily, particularly if issues at work are keeping you in the office longer than is usual or you find yourself having less time to focus on your own health and wellbeing.

Ways of reducing stress include:
• Exercising regularly
• Doing your favourite hobbies which could be reading, crafting or photography
• Listening to music
• Socialising with friends and family
• Writing down what’s stressing you out

While it’s impossible to totally prevent the flu, these are simple steps that you can do straight away to reduce the likelihood of catching it.”

And if you’re in the at-risk groups mentioned above, or are responsible for someone who is, but are struggling to get a face-to-face appointment with your GP, do remember that as a Paycare Policyholder, you can use our exclusive MyPocketGP service – to find out more, please click here.

*Source: Medstars.