It’s not difficult to contract the flu. Several strains of the virus make the rounds each year during flu season, which is most active from December through March. In 2009, the H1N1 or “swine” flu has been particularly widespread and virulent, especially among children and pregnant women, although its symptoms are typically no more serious than those of other flu strains.
Flu is an air-borne virus that becomes problematic in the winter because indoor air tends to be dryer; otherwise, the virus attaches to microscopic droplets in humid, warm-weather air and falls harmlessly to the ground. Flu virus can also survive for a time on surfaces. Catching the flu is easy. If an ill person doesn't cough or sneeze directly in your face, you can acquire the virus by touching something it lands on and transferring it to your system with your hands.
If your immune system is weakened by disease, such as HIV/AIDS, you are more likely to catch the flu because your body’s ability to produce infection-fighting white blood cells is compromised. However, if you are healthy, you can weaken your immune system in other ways. Sleep less than eight hours every night, which can lead to chronic fatigue and stress. Practice poor nutrition; skip the vitamin supplements and make junk food a staple of your diet. Drink lots of alcohol. Take a pass on flu vaccinations.
Once you feel sufficiently run-down, your body should put up little resistance when you’re exposed to flu viruses.
After you’ve been out in public and around other people, touching doorknobs and other well-handled objects, don’t wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer. At work, linger at the workstations of co-workers who have had the flu. Touch their keyboards, pens and staplers. Use their phones. They may have deposited virus on these items.
Go to crowded public places like restaurants, shopping malls or cinemas where there are bound to be flu carriers. They can share the virus with you at least one day before and up to three days after they become ill.
Volunteer to nurse friends and family who have the flu so you can be near them while their symptoms are most contagious. Stand nearby when they cough or sneeze. Handle their used tissues and don't wash your hands.
The virus invades your system through any moist membrane, so touch your eyes, nose and mouth frequently when around flu sufferers to help the virus gain entry.
If you follow these tips, you should soon experience muscle aches, extreme fatigue, headache, chills, a high fever, and possibly nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms should pass after about a week unless complications develop, and then you should seek medical help.