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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Flu Shot Scare Fuels Scams

Fearful of the flu virus, people are turning to anything and everything.
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Indeed, sneezing into a tissue -- or your sleeve -- keeps flu virus droplets from landing on your family, friends, and co-workers and infecting them, he adds. But you don't need specially treated tissues, any tissue will do," Baracco says. Keep in mind, though, using the tissues won't help you get well any sooner.

If there's a lot of flu virus around, here's what Baracco advises:

  • Stay away from people who are coughing and sneezing.
  • Stay out of public theaters, the mall, sporting events.
  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Keep your fingers out of your nose and eyes.

Hand sanitizing lotions help prevent transmission of colds from one person to another. But flu virus is not primarily transmitted that way; it's spread through droplets in the air. That's why covering your mouth and nose helps protect others while you're contagious.

Healthy Living: Taking care of yourself year-round is what helps most against a flu virus. Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep, reducing stress, washing hands often - those are your best protection against the flu, says Baracco.

"Healthy people do get sick, but they are able to fight off the virus much easier, faster," he tells WebMD. "They have stronger bodies. That in itself will prevent illnesses that predispose you to complications like chronic lung disease and heart disease. It's like trying to prevent getting old. You can't do it, but you can be healthy and old."

In fact, there are plenty of vitamins and minerals that can boost the immune system -- and many can be found in fruits and vegetables, says Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, a consultant with WebMD's Weight Loss Clinic and author of The Flax Cookbook. In the last 30 years, studies have shown that even mild nutrient deficiencies can impair the immune system and lead to frequent, severe infections, says Magee.

Flaxseed oil contains omega-3 fatty acids and plant estrogens (called lignans), both good for the immune system and fighting a flu virus.

Also, eat foods that have plenty of vitamin B-6; folic acid; vitamins C, A, and E; zinc, iron; and selenium, she advises. Those include:

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