Published: November 2008High Performance: Flu Season

How to Beat Flu Season

Don't spend your vacation flat on your back with the flu. Beat the bug with well-timed exercise, the right vaccines, and a few sneaky strategies.

Text by Michael McRae
Illustration by Gary Neill

At the peak of flu season several years ago, I flew to Sudan to join a team of archaeologists searching for an ancient Nubian temple thought to hold a pharaoh’s ransom in gold and artifacts. But within hours of reaching Khartoum, I had a wretchedly sore throat, a nagging cough, achy muscles, and a 102.5-degree fever. Colds develop more slowly, so it was no surprise when I was diagnosed with flu. I struggled out of bed five days later and managed to get to the dig, but by then the team had decided to halt the search until the following year. My Indiana Jones fantasy had been sabotaged—by something as preventable as the flu. Don’t let it derail your own plans.

1. Travel Smart
Upper respiratory infections are among the most common illnesses that affect international travelers, second only to stomach flu. (The two are unrelated.) Jet lag and the general stress of transit conspire to weaken your immune system. In the Northern Hemisphere, where flu season lasts from late October through March, the virus peaks during the holidays. Try limiting your trips then, and take vacations in spring instead. And as elementary as it sounds, washing your hands (or disinfecting them with alcohol-based sanitizer) is still the best way to prevent infection.

Next: Know Your Enemy

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