The coronavirus has been a dominating topic for the better part of two years, but it’s also important to be vigilant about protecting yourself from other illnesses, especially during cold and flu season. Getting sick with a cold or the flu, as common as they may be, makes it significantly more difficult to do your job as a truck driver. Truckers are more susceptible to catching viruses because you spend a lot of time going in and out of terminals, public restrooms, and rest stops. These are all high-touch areas and it puts you in contact with lots of people. Here are a few tips you can follow to protect yourself during cold and flu season:

1. Get your flu shot – This is one of the best things you can do for flu prevention. Even if you do happen to get the flu, having a flu shot may minimize the severity of your symptoms. It’s quick and is often offered for free at your doctor’s office or local pharmacy.

2. Maintain a healthy lifestyle – Eat vitamin-rich foods to help your body stay healthy and recuperate more quickly if you do get sick. You can also add in a multivitamin or vitamin C or zinc supplements to help support your immune system. Exercising regularly increases blood flow, reduces inflammation, and strengthens antibodies – all of which keep you healthier and stronger to fight off illness.

3. Wash your hands – Handwashing has been huge for limiting the spread of COVID-19, but it’s always been a great way to keep from getting sick. Make sure you’re using warm water and soap, lather the backs of your hands and between your fingers, and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Keep alcohol-based hand sanitizer in your truck for the times when you don’t have access to soap and water. These aren’t as effective as washing your hands the traditional way, but they do a good job if it’s the only option you have.

4. Get enough sleep – If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, your body may be more susceptible to illnesses like a cold or the flu. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night to keep your immune system working at its best.

If you’ve already come down with some sort of illness, here are some things you can do to get better quickly:

Stay hydrated – This is one of the most important things you can do. Drink hot tea with honey for your sore throat and add ginger if your stomach is upset. Drinking plenty of water is also necessary to replace fluids you might be losing while you’re sick.

Chicken Noodle Soup – It’s not just a saying – chicken soup really is good for you when you’re sick. Cooked chicken releases something called cysteine, which is beneficial for fighting sickness. Plus, the broth and veggies are gentle on queasy stomachs.

Rest – Always easy to say and harder to do but giving your body some much needed rest plays a big role in how quickly you get back on your feet. If you have a cold or flu, you’ll want to get extra sleep.

Medication – There are many over-the-counter medications available to help with sinus pain, clearing out mucus, suppressing coughs and helping that brain fog that often comes with being sick. If you’re unsure of what medication will help you the most, stop by the pharmacy to ask.

Learn how to say no – Sometimes needing to take a day or two off is inevitable. Put your health first and know when you need to take a break from work or say no to extra activities.

See a doctor – If your symptoms are severe or don’t improve after several days, it’s probably time to see a doctor. When you’re on the road, take advantage of virtual visits. This doctor visit will help you determine whether you need to be seen in person. You can also see where your closest urgent care or pharmacy clinic is.

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