There are flu shots, the flu mist and antiviral medications. These have their promise, in a limited way. The flu shot is only effective against certain flu strains, and, in some communities, is rationed. The flu mist, ditto. Antiviral medications have limited effectiveness, and best used in hospitals and dormitories - places where people are packed tightly into one breathing space. Antibiotics, which are only deadly to bacteria, are useless.
The best protection is prevention -
Avoid personal contact in general. Don't approach the coughing vicinity of folks who are sick. Wash your hands before touching your face in public places, at work, or even around a sick family member. Don't touch tissues that someone else has used for coughing, sneezing or nose blowing. Ask people (especially children) to cover their nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing. Do not share eating utensils, drinking glasses, towels or other personal items. Clean your hands often – with soap and water, or with an alcohol-based, waterless hand sanitizer. Try not to use public restrooms.
People at extreme risk (babies, elderly, the immunocompromised) should wear a mask when going out. Or even gloves. People who have the flu can also wear a mask, to prevent spreading those germs in public.
In the home -
Lysol should be a help. Spray your doorknobs, fridge handle, phones, remotes, computer keyboards, switch plates, sink taps - anything often touched by multiple persons. Bleach is a wonderful antibacterial cleanser for most of these surfaces.
Healthlink, at the University of Wisconsin suggests cleaning surfaces thoroughly with soap and water or another strong cleanser. They continue: "After cleaning, if you need to use a disinfectant, apply it to the area, and let it stand for a few minutes or longer, depending on the manufacturer's recommendations. This keeps the germs in contact with the disinfectant longer. Wipe the surface with paper towels that can be thrown away or cloth towels that can be washed afterwards. Even if you use gloves, wash your hands after cleaning or disinfecting surfaces."
The University of Vermont Center for Health and Wellbeing website offers:
"Don't share silverware, towels, or bedding with anyone in your home until these items have been washed with soap and hot water.Clean surfaces (counter or tabletops, door knobs, bathroom fixtures, etc.) that have been contaminated by body fluids (sweat, saliva, mucous, or even vomit or urine) from the patient with a household disinfectant used according to the manufacturer's instructions. Wear disposable gloves during all cleaning activities. Throw these out when you are done. Do not reuse them."
You can also boil your toothbrush (for just a minute in water and vinegar) or get a new one (and keep it in a separate place) if you share a bathroom with someone who has the flu.
Prevention from within -
Take this time to eat right, get enough sleep, lessen your stress levels, and make sure you are getting enough vitamins, whether in supplements or the food you buy (ie - organic is a good bet, or food fresh from a farmer's market). Drink lots of fluids to help keep your immune system up. Be good to yourself.
The Daily Buzz recommends taking at least 250 milligrams of vitamin C, a B-complex, and vitamin E. They also mention adding garlic to your diet. Garlic contains allicin, a compound with antiviral effects.
The Alternative Medicine site at Bella also offers great tips to keep your immunity up to par this season, with this Total Immunity article.
There's another great piece about using aromatherapy to prevent or treat flu bugs
at Bella's Fragrance topic.