It’s Flu Vaccine Week!

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It’s National Influenza Immunization week!
Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

I’m sure many of you have already heard that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has warned us that we’re having an early flu season this year.  It may not be too late to get a flu shot, but the flu shot isn’t a guarantee that you won’t get sick.  There’s the possibility you might get a different strain than what you were vaccinated for and the flu vaccine doesn’t protect you from the common cold.

As endurance athletes, we don’t want to get sick before a big race or take time off from training.  We’re also more vulnerable to catching something after a long race due to a weakened immune system.  Whether you get the flu shot or not is a personal decision. But either way, you’ll want to take steps to remain healthy.

So what can you do to stay healthy while training, racing, or attending holiday parties?

Wash your hands often!
Working in the healthcare field, this has been tattooed into my mind.  Washing your hands often is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do to protect yourself & others from getting sick.
Soap & water work best, but if that’s not available keep a hand sanitizer nearby.

Keep your hands away from your face.
Mouth, eyes, nose…they’re all potential entryways for the cold or flu virus to get you.

Vitamin C
Results from studies are inconsistent on whether vitamin C helps prevent or treat colds.  It is safe to take for most people, but keep in mind that high doses (over 2,000 mg/day) could be dangerous.

Echinacea
Research shows Echinacea can help with the severity of a cold when taken at the first signs of a cold, but not to prevent it.  Keep in mind that Echinacea should only be used short-term.

Zinc
This also gets inconsistent results in studies.  When taken at the first signs of a cold, it may help shorten the duration of a cold.  It’s recommended not to take Zinc for more than 5 days.

For For more information on the flu (or any disease for that matter), check http://www.cdc.gov/flu/

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