​It's that time of the year again! Exams, exams, exams and.......the dreaded flu bug, of course!

Sure, we all want to avoid getting sick, but most of the time we can't really control when we get colds, the flu, or other contagious illnesses, can we?

Actually, we can!

Did you know that you're actually exposed to illnesses before people you are in contact with actually show any signs of being sick??

Take, for instance, when a family member sneezes several times at the dinner table. The chances of him or her coming down with a full-blown cold the next day are very high!

If you learn to detect these early signs, then the next time someone in your household or your friends has a common cold or other contagious bug, you can take some precautions to keep these troublesome germs from invading your body!

Here are some "stay-well" tips to keep you safe and strong!

1. Know your enemy

From our experience, it's always better to be properly informed in order to avoid things that may damage our health.

Influenza, commonly shortened to "flu," is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza A or B viruses, which attack the body by spreading through the upper and/or lower respiratory tract.

The common cold, which is often confused with the flu, is also a contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract, except it's much less harmful to the body; it may drag you down a bit, but unlike the flu, it won't make you too weak to even think about leaving your bed!

Common symptoms of the common cold include congestion, sore throat, and sneezing, while the flu tends to cause coughing, headache, and chest discomfort. The major difference between the two is that the flu is more likely to give you a high fever for several days and make your body weak as it uses all its resources to fight the fever.

Health complications from colds are relatively minor, but a severe case of flu can lead to a life-threatening illness such as pneumonia.

Oh, and one last thing: there are currently more than 100 types of known cold viruses, while new strains of flu evolve every few years.

2. The infection protection

As any doctor will tell you, vaccinations reduce vaccine-preventable diseases.

Nowadays there are many types of antiviral medications available to treat flu. By decreasing the ability of the viruses to reproduce inside your body, the antiviral drugs reduce the severity of the symptoms and help speed up recovery.

Of course, these antiviral medications are not a substitute for flu vaccination!

No matter how old you are, it's always best to check with your GP if you are up-to-date with all your vaccinations and if specific types of flu vaccines are adapted for your case.

Click here for more information on vaccine-preventable diseases, subsidies available and frequently asked questions.



3. Survival of the fittest

The name of the game is prevention and this is how YOU should play it :
  • Think of hand washing as a survival kit. This could possibly be one of the biggest factors in staying germ-free.
  • Do not touch your mouth, nose or eyes without washing your hands!
  • Take A LOT of Vitamin C as it helps to boost your immune system.
  • Never share food or drinks with someone who is already sick.
  • Stay fit by exercising
  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. We hear garlic is a good ally!
  • Sufficient sleep every day.

4. And for those....who kinda have the flu already

If you are already sick with the flu, there are three major steps to avoid spreading the virus around like wildfire:
  • If you really need to sneeze, make sure you use a tissue or handkerchief to sneeze into rather than sneezing with your mouth wide open.
  • In any instances where you find yourself not having either of the above, sneeze into the inside of your elbows instead of your hands, which spread the virus on anything you touch later. If you do sneeze in your hands, wash them immediately!
  • If you can arrange your schedule and your duties, stay in bed, or at least at home! If you must come out, wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth till you feel better - Simple, right?

Remember, serious conditions could also masquerade as the common cold and mild infections can roll into something more serious! Make sure you always consult a doctor so nothing gets out of control! ​​