Here's how you can keep the flu at bay this winter

At this time of year there's always a risk we can get the flu, but as we brace ourselves for a bout of cold winter weather over the next couple of weeks, there's an extra reason to wrap up and keep symptoms at bay.  According to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, there were 151 confirmed cases of people being hospitalised due to flu in the first week of 2019 alone, bringing the season total to 282. So, what can we do to stay healthy?

Get the flu vaccine

One of the first things recommended is to get the flu vaccine.  Each year the seasonal flu vaccine contains three common influenza virus strains. The flu virus changes each year and therefore a new flu vaccine must be given each year. Seasonal flu vaccine helps a person’s immune system to produce antibodies to the flu virus.

Who should get the flu vaccination?

While everyone should consider getting the vaccinations, it’s especially important for specific at-risk groups, including those over 65, people with impaired immune systems, those with a BMI over 40, pregnant women, healthcare workers and carers, cancer patients and those with disabilities.

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Where can I get it? 

If you are over 65 years, or an at-risk patient aged 18-64, who holds a Medical Card, Doctor Visit Card or has HAA eligibility, winter flu vaccination is FREE. If you are over 65, or one of the at-risk patients aged 18-64, and are not eligible for any of the above schemes, winter flu vaccination costs around €15 in most pharmacies. For all other customers over 18 years outside of the categories above, winter flu vaccination costs €20.

Try natural remedies

Obviously, eating well and staying in good physical shape will strengthen your immune system, but equally, there are other options you can add to your day-to-day that will also help.

Probiotics 

Probiotics help your body in many different ways. They remove harmful toxins from the body, help your body metabolise fat and sugar, and nurture a healthy gut. To get the most out of these you will need to invest in one of the more expensive probiotics from the fridge section in your nearest health store - they pack more effective live bacteria.

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Lemon-infused water

Whether it’s hot or cold, make sure to add this to your daily routine. Lemon water is a great source of vitamin C and B, Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium that will definitely help to kick-start your day. Drinking lemon-infused water is also great for digestion and balancing pH levels in your body, which helps maintain a healthy system.

Echinacea

Echinacea is also a great way to beat the flu. The North American medicinal plant boosts the immune system, reduces the common cold symptoms, fights infection, and alleviates inflammation and pain, so if you’re suffering from a headache or a sore throat , seek it out in liquid rather than pill form, which you can add as a tincture to water repeatedly throughout the day.

Manuka Honey

Manuka honey contains impressive antibacterial properties, which are very effective for treating some flu symptoms. It contains more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants than any other type of honey. Mix it with a nice hot cup of hot water and lemon and it will help soothe a sore throat and even help with relieving the effects of a dry, irritating cough.

Related: Seven unexpected health and beauty uses for Apple Cider Vinegar 

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Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a great remedy to help relieve and prevent cold symptoms. It can help boost your gut, fight infection by balancing the pH levels in your body and leave you feeling energised. Not only does it help soothe sore throats, but it also helps with a stuffy nose thanks to its antibiotic properties. It only takes one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to take advantage of these amazing health benefits. Slug a nice organic, Irish one (Llewelyn's or Living Culture)  first thing in the morning.

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