The warm summer nights and hours of sun are past us. Fall has brought cooler temperatures, colorful trees, and flu season. While the official flu season generally occurs from December through February, flu outbreaks can occur as early as October. Fall is a great time to get yourself ready for the upcoming cold and flu season before the germs really hit the American population.
As owner-operators you don’t get sick time like many workers who work for a company do. When you’re not working, you’re not making money. You’re also traveling great distances to different parts of the country that exposes you to different strains of viruses and bacteria that your body has not been exposed to before. Combine those two factors with a high stress job that entails little sleep and possibly a diet that involves too much fast food and your risk of developing a cold and flu is higher than people working in an office every day.
Luckily there are many ways to reduce your chances of developing a major cold or flu this year. While nothing will 100% prevent you from getting sick, these tips can help you keep your immune system strong and reduce your chances of succumbing to the flu and keeping you off the road.
5 Tips to Reduce Your Chances of Getting the Flu
Get the Flu Shot
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting the flu vaccine every year. Each year the flu vaccine is slightly different based on the most common flu virus so it is important to get it every year to account for the changing strains. While the flu vaccine does not 100% prevent the flu, it can greatly reduce your chances of getting sick. The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months to get the shot, especially people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart and lung diseases. The flu vaccine is readily available in your healthcare provider’s office, flu clinics, and pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS.
Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands is one of the best germ prevention methods you can do. Fecal matter from people and animals are a host to germs like Salmonelle, E. coli, and the norovirus. These germs often get on the hands after people use the bathroom and if they don’t wash their hands properly, the germs can spread and live just about anywhere. It is important to wash your hands with soap throughout the day, especially after using the bathroom and before and after handling food.
Get Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep can make you sick. Research studies have shown that people who experience a low quality of sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, like the flu or common cold. While you’re sleeping, your immune system releases cytokines, which are proteins with several jobs. Some help promote sleep while other will help you fight infection and inflammation. Doctors recommend between 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
Avoid Close Contact
This might seem like a no-brainer, but avoid close contact with people who are sick. This works both ways too. If you’re sick try to avoid healthy people to avoid spreading your germs. While you can’t completely avoid everyone who is sick everywhere you go, you can certainly visibly see if someone is really sick and avoid any close contact with them. If someone is coughing and sneezing a lot, that’s a good indicator they could be sick. If you do come into contact with a sick person, remember to wash your hands.
Staying hydrated is important for your health and is especially important when you’re starting to get the tingle in the back of your throat. Drinking water is essential to your health. It serves as your body’s natural detox system by flushing waste out of your cells. Many providers recommend drinking half your bodyweight in ounces per day. Herbal teas can also help relieve the symptoms of colds and flus. Many herbal tea ingredients like lemon and honey can help soothe a sore throat.
You can’t 100% prevent getting the flu, but you can find ways to reduce your chances of feeling miserable on the bathroom floor. The above tips can help you reduce your chances, but it’s up to you to follow through with them. Remember, as owner-operators everyday lying on the couch sick is a day not making money.
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