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5 Ways to Fight Colds and Flu

If you were like 90,000 other adults this year, you may have caught the flu during the last few months.

Your symptoms started with a mild dry cough, a headache or pain and tiredness around your eyes. But as your illness progressed, you developed a fever and severe muscle aches. Not long later, you vomited what felt like a year's worth of meals and continued to dry heave over the next few days.

The experience was definitely one you did not want to repeat. And understandably, you hope to avoid the illness next season. To keep colds and flu at bay, make sure to follow these simple tips and techniques.

1. Don't Skip the Vaccine

A large majority of health insurance companies cover flu vaccinations, so you don't have to pay a cent to enjoy the extra protection. And in general, you can walk into participating pharmacies and receive a shot in less time than you would need to order lunch.

As the 2015 flu season was particularly rough, the Australian Department of Health stated that they would make an additional strain vaccination available in 2016. The new vaccine should boost your immunity against the Brisbane strain as well as the Phuket strain of influenza.

2. Install a high quality Air Filter or Purifier

Many people mistakenly assume that the flu spreads only through coughing and sneezing. However, the virus can travel as far as 1.8 metres away from an infected individual via talking or breathing. As the person exhales, he or she releases submicron particles into the air. An air filter with a minimum .1 micron particle efficiency can remove nearly all of these contagious particles from the air. As a result, uninfected families have a better likelihood of avoiding the illness, and those with infected members have a decreased chance of spreading the flu to everyone else in the household.

3. Disinfect Frequently Used Surfaces

Even if you avoid direct contact with flu carriers, you can still contract the illness if you touch the same surfaces. In fact, the influenza virus can generally survive on most surfaces between two and eight hours, depending on temperature and humidity. Furthermore, infected adults can spread the virus to others one day before their own symptoms start to develop. Consequently, you may accidentally pass the flu to family, friends and co-workers before you ever know you are sick.

To kill germs and bacteria, frequently clean and disinfect commonly shared surfaces, such as door and cabinet handles, coffee pots, microwaves and refrigerators. And for your own protection, carry a small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitiser in your pocket or purse. Though sanitisers do not effectively replace soap and water, they can quickly reduce contagious microbes when hand washing isn't feasible.

4. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet

Although a nutritious diet will help you stay healthy at any time of year, you'll want to be especially thoughtful about what you eat during flu season. A mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein ensure you receive essential nutrients that boost your immunity and fight off infection. Some research suggests that vitamin D deficiencies may increase your likelihood of catching the flu and other respiratory infections. In addition, Omega-3 fatty acids can help keep your immune system running at full power. However, neither nutrient has a 100% guarantee that you'll avoid the flu entirely, so aim for a balance of healthy foods rather than overdosing on one or two ingredients.

5. Follow a Regular Exercise Routine

Moderate exercise works wonders for your body, and not just your waistline. Moderate, regular exercise boosts your natural defences against colds and flu. So aim to jog, walk or bike at least 30 minutes a day, three to four times per week.

Keep in mind that you don't have to strain yourself. Extended, stressful workouts can leave you vulnerable to infection. And if you already have the virus, scale back your workouts and give your body a chance to recover before you visit the gym again.

When you follow these five steps, you can greatly reduce your chances of catching the flu next season.