If you have already been stricken with a winter bug (in the case of any men out there, man flu) then you are not alone. Doctors report that the highly contagious norovirus winter vomiting bug has struck early this year, with the number of people seeing their GP up by 25% on last year. So far 1,207 cases have been confirmed by lab testing, but four each case reported and tested there are usually hundreds more that have gone unreported.
This level is the highest for 5 years in the month of November. Cases of rotovirus (with similar symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea and which often sweeps through schools and nurseries) are also up by nearly a third.
The department of health reports that from next winter babies will be vaccinated against the rotavirus; the vaccine, in the form of mouth drops, will be offered to all babies of 4 months and older.
How can you avoid catching winter viruses? Try the following: distance yourself from those who have or have just had the flu. This may not always feasible but still try to keep a few feet away; wash your hands often, ensuring that you do a proper job; avoid sharing towels or clothing with those who have had the flu, do the laundry often and wash on a hot cycle; try to avoid eating food that has been made by someone with a winter virus; disinfect common items that are touched often in both the home and the workplace. These are things like door handles, remotes, phones and computer mice. Strength training (exercises like push ups, squats and sit-ups) also boosts the effectiveness of the immune system, so include this in your weekly routine.
Finally take really good care of yourself. The immune system is dependant on you getting good sleep (quality and duration), being properly hydrated and eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.