The Malta Independent 24 October 2018, Wednesday

How to avoid the festive flu

Dayna Clarke Thursday, 7 December 2017, 09:03 Last update: about 12 months ago

Present shopping, cooking, copious celebrations and travelling around the island to catch up with family and friends, Christmas is a period in which we all require great energy to get through our daily responsibilities.

Falling sick with a cold or season flu is the last thing many of us want this time of year. With all the hustle and bustle of the festive season, each of us meet an incredible number of germs daily that can give our immune system a big hit.

In fact, there are over 200 viruses more prevalent during the winter months. Many of us dread catching a seasonal bug, but what can we do to avoid falling ill over the festive period? The Malta Independent spoke to Marcus Zarb-Cousins (photo), Senior Pharmacist and director of Anici Pharmacy and Medical Centre in Qormi to share his top tips to avoid winter illness.

Take the flu 

The World Health Organisation recommends taking the flu vaccine once a year, for people over the age of six years. It is especially recommended in those people who are at high risk of contracting the influenza virus. These include pregnant women, people suffering from other conditions and those who work in healthcare.

Wash your hands

This is one of the simplest, yet most often forgotten about ways of protecting yourself against the influenza virus. Washing your hands does not mean rinsing them under running water. They must be scrubbed with soap for at least 20 seconds and don't forget to wash between your fingers and fingernails. Try to be more aware of germ hot spots such as door handles and shopping centre escalator rails. This time of year these places are more busy than usual. Keeping a good quality antibacterial gel handy is also advised.

Fresh air

Stuffy rooms greatly increase the chance of getting sick and in winter we tend to put the heating up and keep the windows closed. Be sure to leave the windows open at your place of work regularly to increase the circulation of air in the room. If your colleagues complain about feeling too cold, kindly inform them fresh air is important for you all not to get sick.

Keep your distance

This one is impossible for us, but you can do something about it. Try your best to avoid being around people who are sick, and you will greatly reduce the chances of the virus being transmitted. It may seem obvious, but certain work and social occasions may make this more difficult. If you are actually sick during the festive period, then it would be best to stay home. Get enough sleep and exercise. Sleep deprivation equals an increased chance of getting sick. Our immune system responds very well to sleep and rest, and eight hours every evening is advised.

Take high quality probiotics and multivitamins

My go to product is the Optibac Probiotics for Daily Immunity. It has the correct mix of vitamin C, good bacteria and other antioxidants that is necessary to have the body's immune system firing on all cylinders. Take one a day before breakfast, when the gut is at the optimum acidity, this will give you an added boost during the festive period. Your local pharmacist can also recommend a good daily multivitamin for your needs to help you boost your immune system.

Last but not least- exercise!

With dark nights and a recent sharp drop in temperature, many of us do not feel compelled to engage in physical activities, however we know this really helps fight off bugs, exercise also leaves you fitter and releases hormones in your body that keep you feeling sharp throughout the day


Throughout December and January, Anici Pharmacy and Medical Centre will be open from 8am till 8pm including public holidays, except for Christmas Day and New Year's day.

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