You might want to think twice before calling in sick with the flu next time you’re feeling a little under the weather. If you’re over 30 years old, odds are you’ve probably got something else.
That’s the news from the Imperial College in London, which released a study this week claiming adults over 30 are only likely to contract influenza twice per decade. In other words, once every five years or so.
Perhaps there’s another reason to love aging after all.
The scientists theorize that part of the reason youngins contract the flu more often (on average, every other year), is because they mix with more people. But it could also have something to do with the fact that once you hit 30, you’re more likely to have a storage of flu antibodies in your body that could protect you against returning strains.
As time goes on the flu virus evolves and changes, hence why health professionals encourage the public to get a flu shot every year. This study was commissioned in part to help scientists predict how the virus changes, and to develop a more permanent vaccine.
More research is needed, but from the volunteers in Southern China who allowed their blood to be analyzed, scientists were able to look at antibody data from nine different flu strands ranging from 1968 to 2009.
In the meantime what can you do to prevent the flu (or that cough and cold you’re more likely to actually have)?
- Wash your hands! It should go without saying, but that’s one of the easiest ways to help prevent getting sick. Don’t rely on those antibacterial lotions alone either — the flu is a virus, and not bacteria.
- Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue rather than your hands.
- Don’t touch your face. Doing so ups the likelihood of the virus entering your body through your nose, mouth or eyes.
- Don’t touch common surfaces either. You never know who else isn’t washing their hands properly.
- Get a little bit of exercise, even if it’s just gentle stretching or a quick walk around the block. Being active boosts immune function, and we could all use a little immunity during these cold, cold times.