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Avoiding winter flu

At this time of the year Switzerland is in the grip of the seasonal flu epidemic. We show you how you can reduce the risk of catching flu and protect yourself and others by taking a few simple precautions.

The seasonal flu epidemic hit Switzerland especially early this year. According to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) the viruses responsible were already around at the start of December and spoiled the festive season for many people. Here you can find some tips on how to protect yourself and those around you against infection.

Wash the virus away
This is an essential precautions that we often forget when we are under pressure: washing our hands. If you have been outside, you should always wash your hands immediately when you get home or arrive at work. Bacteria and viruses can enter the body when you touch your mouth, eyes or nose – and we tend to do this a lot. We each touch our face between 2 000 and 4 000 times a day. You can find out more and see instructions on how to wash your hands correctly here.

Keep your distance in social situations
This sounds awkward – and unfriendly – but it's essential. If you have flu at present or recently had it, it's a good idea to dispense with some of the social niceties, such as kissing or shaking hands with people you meet. Explain to the other person why you want to keep your distance.

Did you know that sneeze droplets can remain in the air for minutes? You can take action against airborne viruses by ventilating your room/office for 5 to 15 minutes several times a day. If possible, try to sneeze into a handkerchief or raise your elbow to cover your nose when you sneeze. The same applies to coughing. It's also worth noting that viruses can also attach themselves to mobile phone screens, door handles, keyboards and many other objects/surfaces, so it's worth cleaning these at regular intervals.

Stay fit
The best defence against viruses and bacteria is our own immune system. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, eat well and exercise. The mucous membranes also play an important part because they help prevent viruses etc. from entering the body. Ideally they should be moist, although dry air in the winter can make this difficult. You should therefore drink plenty of fluids and, where necessary, use a nasal douche with a salt water solution. The lukewarm salt water will disinfect the nose, loosen the mucus and help you breathe more easily.

If you have any further questions about your health, you can ask the doctors and medical staff at sante24 for expert advice – free of charge, 24 hours a day. On request, sante24 will also make a doctor’s appointment for you. Tel. +41 (0)44 404 86 86