Beaconsfield Local  Our Immune system – Stay smiling this winter

your-doctor-wexham-tring-beaconsfield-winter-stay-healthyThis month we ask Your Doctor’s Dr Riccardo Di Cuffa how to protect and boost our immune system as we head towards the colder months.

Q. How can I boost my immune system this winter?

A: Reduced sunlight can disrupt our sleeping cycles, reduce our desire to exercise and can affect our vitamin D intake. Make sure you go out into the natural light every day and ensure you have a good diet packed with healthy fruit, vegetables and fibre, and give a wide berth to unhealthy comfort foods.  The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E and they can be found particularly in purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables. Smoking also affects your immune system so get support to help quit if you are a smoker.

Q. How does a flu vaccination work?

A: Flu vaccines work by producing antibodies to fight off the disease without infecting us with the actual disease. The vaccine can identify the disease if it were to come into contact with our body and will release the antibodies to fight it off. For children, a flu nasal spray is usually issued which contains live but weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu. This helps the child build up their immunity to flu, without symptoms. 

Q. Can you catch the flu from a flu vaccine?

A: The vaccine contains inactivated flu viruses, making it near impossible for it to give you the flu. The location of where the injection was given may feel sore and some people may experience a slight temperature and aching muscles for a few days, but it is well worth having the flu vaccine to protect you.

Q. What should I do if I get the flu?

A: If you get the flu, it is important to rest, stay as comfortable as possible, drink plenty of water, take a paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and ease the aches and pains if needed. If you feel as though you need to seek advice, visit your local pharmacist who can provide treatment advice and recommend flu remedies. If your symptoms haven’t improved after a week, call 111 or speak to your GP. 

Q.  Who should get the flu vaccine?

A: You are eligible for the flu vaccine if you are 65 years of age or older, are pregnant, are a carer, or have certain medical conditions such as heart and liver disease or respiratory diseases like asthma. Children are eligible if they are over six months with a long-term health condition, aged between two and three years old, or are in reception or years one to four at school.

It is important to remember you are not just protecting yourself. By getting vaccinated we are preventing the spread of flu and helping stop those around us from becoming ill.

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