No one ever wants to come down with a bad case of the flu. Especially, when you’re traveling. Unlike the common cold, which can be caused by over 100 different viruses, the flu is caused by one of 3 strains (Type A, B, or C) of the influenza virus. Unfortunately, a virus isn’t affected at all by antibiotics and only will respond to antivirals if given within 24-48 hours of first symptoms. So once the flu takes hold, your only choice is to wait it out, be miserable, and treat the symptoms as much as possible. And the symptoms can be very unpleasant.
Cold or Flu?
Now you know all the bad stuff a case of the flu brings with it…fever, severe aches and pain that may last for several weeks, chills, and headaches. What can we do to avoid this unpleasantness altogether? When traveling, our bodies are already stressed to the max. Crowded airplanes, unsanitary taxis, and sometimes questionable hotel/hostel accommodations all greatly increase the chances that we’ll come up against one of those nasty flu viruses and not be able to fight it off. Here are a few tips on keeping healthy and avoiding the flu naturally while traveling.
5 Ways to Avoid the Flu Naturally
1. Keep it clean. Wash your hands as often as possible. Touching the nose, mouth, and eyes is one of the most common way the flu virus is spread. Hand sanitizers and antimicrobial wet wipes are great for travelers. A quick wipe up of your airplane seat rests, computer keyboard, pens and tray table can go a long way to prevent the spread of bacteria and some viruses.
2. Boost your body. Traveling can be tough on the digestive system, so keeping it simple with a good variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is essential. The more colorful the better! Colorful foods are usually highest in immunity-strengthening antioxidants. Fruits and veggies high in important vitamin C include oranges, red/green chili peppers, fresh kale, kiwi fruit, strawberries, and papayas.
3. Get plenty of sleep. Often when traveling, our body clocks get all out of whack. Jet lag and sleep issues can quickly bring down an otherwise health immune system. Shoot for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep if possible and your body will thank you for it. See Beat Jet Lag more tips on how to come out ahead of this pesky traveler’s affliction.
4. Walk it off. Even mild exercise for 30-60 minutes each day can give your body’s immune system an extra kick. Take a brisk walk or a long run. Not only will you be seeing your new destination through different eyes, but you’ll be giving yourself more muscle to fight the flu. Exercise also relieves stress quite effectively and we all know traveling can be a very stressful experience at times.
5. Enjoy a cuppa. What better way to put your immune system into first gear than to enjoy a cup of soothing tea? Simple ingredients like fresh lemon juice, ginger and honey added to a cup of green or black tea boost the body’s resistance to viral invasion. Decaffeinated green teas help keep the body hydrated and flushed as well. The warmth feels so good going down!
As with all medical conditions discussed on the Internet, check first with your doctor before using any alternative treatments.
Happy, Healthy Travels!
Lisa Chavis, RPh ~ The Travel Pharmacist