How To Avoid The Flu Over Christmas & What To Do If You Get Sick

The flu tends to become more common during the Christmas holiday season. 

And getting sick at a time when you’re supposed to be having fun and spending time with your family is particularly galling.

In this article, we provide information on practices that may reduce the risk of contracting the flu during the Christmas season.

In addition, we tell you things you can do if you, unfortunately, contract flu during the festive season.

How to reduce your risk of getting the flu before Christmas

The last thing anybody wants is a serious case of the flu, especially in our elderly and more vulnerable relatives. 

So, how can you prevent yourself from getting the flu and ensure the safety of your family this Christmas? 

We discuss a few tips below to avoid festive flu:

1) Wash your hands frequently

The flu virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets. These are emitted when an infected person sneezes, coughs, talks, etc. 

These droplets can also stick to items like a door handle or toilet flush. 

You can get the flu by touching an infected item and subsequently touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

Therefore, make sure you wash your hands frequently.

2) Avoid touching your face

Your mouth, nose, and eyes are easy entry points for germs to gain access to your body. Avoid touching these areas as much as you can. If you must, ensure that your hands are clean.

3) Don’t slack on diet and exercise

The festive season can be a hectic period. With the flurry of activities, things like keeping up with your exercise regimen and eating a balanced diet may fall by the wayside. 

But these are things you have to be consistent with to keep your body in fighting shape and improve your immunity. 

4) Get enough rest

Getting the recommended hours of shut-eye may be difficult when putting things in place for the holidays. But remember that rest is essential for good health. 

If you’re too tired, your body won’t be able to fend off germs as well as it should.  

5) Reduce your level of stress

Various studies have shown that stress can weaken your immune system and make you more prone to infections like the flu. 

We all experience stress, and during busy periods like the days leading up to Christmas, it is perfectly normal for you to feel more stressed out than usual. 

It is important to find ways to manage your stress and reduce its impact on your body. Some simple and effective methods include practicing mindfulness, breathing exercises, taking a walk, and listening to soothing music.

6) Avoid sharing utensils

It is always best to use your own plates, cups, and cutlery. Even if a person is not showing signs of flu, sharing your utensils with them is risky because a person can be infected and spread the virus while having no symptoms.

7) Maintain your distance

Avoid close contact with someone who is coughing and sneezing, as this is the most common way that flu spreads. 

Sometimes, that isn’t easy, so if you find yourself unable to maintain your distance, make sure to follow the first few pieces of advice – wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, and clean up anything they might have sneezed or coughed on.

8) Get your flu shot

According to the CDC, with a few exceptions, everyone above the age of six months should get a yearly flu shot. 

The flu vaccine is designed to enhance your immune response to the influenza virus. While it reduces the risk of flu contraction and symptom severity, it is not foolproof.

While there can be variations, flu season often begins in October, with peak activity between December and February. 

It can take up to two weeks for antibodies to develop and provide protection after the flu shot

So, it is best to get your shot early on in the season – September to October. But, even if you miss this time frame, getting the shot is still beneficial.

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What to do if you get the winter flu over Christmas

If you do get the flu, it’s advisable to remain isolated to avoid spreading the infection to others. For comfort during illness, consider the following:

1) Stay hydrated

In addition to helping you replace fluids lost through sweating and sneezing, water helps break up mucus in the back of your throat. In other words, it may reduce the discomfort. 

Also, your body needs water for lots of functions. Staying hydrated is essential for overall health and may contribute to a more comfortable recovery.

2) Eat a balanced diet

Maintaining a nutritious diet, including fruits and vegetables, broths, soups, and oily fish, may support overall health during flu recovery.

3) Try lemon and honey

Some people find comfort in using honey and lemon as home remedies during the flu. While they may provide relief, their efficacy varies.

Honey has antibacterial properties, and lemon is full of vitamin C.

4) Befriend vitamin C

Speaking of vitamin C, some studies suggest that this antioxidant may support the immune system to an extent.

Apart from citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, you can get vitamin C from strawberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes. You can also take Vitamin C supplements.

5) Relax

As already mentioned above, stressing yourself out may weaken your immune system and make it more difficult for your body to fight the infection. So take it easy until you feel more like yourself.

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Why do people get sick in the winter?

While cases of flu occur throughout the year, outbreaks tend to occur during the colder months. 

Some studies indicate that the influenza virus and other respiratory viruses can cause infection more easily in the winter because cold air affects the immune response in the nose.

Some researchers also believe that cold temperatures drive people indoors and reduce their exposure to the sun. This can lead to decreased vitamin D levels, which may weaken your immune system.

Another contributory factor is the fact that families and groups of people spend more time together during the holidays. So, illnesses like the flu tend to spread and become more common.

Does cold air kill germs?

Cold air does not kill viruses. In fact, some viruses thrive in cold and dry air – another reason why people may get sick more easily during the winter. 

Bacteria are also not killed by cold air. Their growth and multiplication may be slowed by colder temperatures, however.

What are the symptoms of the festive flu?

You may experience some or all of the following symptoms if you have the flu:

  • An abruptly high temperature, usually more than 38°C/100°F
  • Headache
  • Muscle soreness and discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat

How long does the Christmas flu last?

Symptoms of the flu typically start about one to four days after a person gets infected with the influenza virus. Recovery usually takes five to eight days. 

Still, each person will respond differently. The duration depends on your overall health and how quickly your immune system can clear out the virus.

Can I still get the flu if I had the flu shot?

The flu vaccine is not 100% effective. So, it is possible to get the flu even after you’ve been vaccinated.

Who is most vulnerable?

Anyone can contract the flu. But, some groups are at higher risk of severe infection and complications like pneumonia, sepsis, and even death. 

According to data gathered by the CDC, 70 to 90 percent of flu-related deaths in the US occur among people 65 years and older.

Children under five years of age are also at higher risk of getting serious complications. The reason for this is that very young children and older adults have lower immune function. 

People with conditions that weaken the immune system (e.g., HIV/AIDS) are also at higher risk of severe infection.

Other groups at higher risk include pregnant women, people with a history of lung diseases like asthma and cystic fibrosis, and people with certain heart diseases.


Since the flu tends to peak during the holiday months, it is especially important to take precautions during this period. 

Washing hands frequently, keeping your hands away from your face, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, sleeping well, and getting vaccinated are all ways to reduce your chances of catching the Christmas flu virus.

If you do contract festive flu, the good news is that symptoms typically last less than a week. To speed up recovery, stay hydrated, get enough rest, and take more vitamin C. Also, be sure to isolate yourself to prevent the spread of the virus.

If your symptoms are persistent or if you belong to an at-risk group, please reach out to your doctor for guidance.

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  5. Huang D, Taha MS, Nocera AL, Workman AD, Amiji MM, Bleier BS. Cold exposure impairs extracellular vesicle swarm-mediated nasal antiviral immunity. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2023 Feb;151(2):509-525.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2022.09.037. Epub 2022 Dec 6. PMID: 36494212.
  6. Sîrbe C, Rednic S, Grama A, Pop TL. An Update on the Effects of Vitamin D on the Immune System and Autoimmune Diseases. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Aug 29;23(17):9784. doi: 10.3390/ijms23179784. PMID: 36077185; PMCID: PMC9456003.
  7. Ikäheimo TM, Jaakkola K, Jokelainen J, Saukkoriipi A, Roivainen M, Juvonen R, Vainio O, Jaakkola JJ. A Decrease in Temperature and Humidity Precedes Human Rhinovirus Infections in a Cold Climate. Viruses. 2016 Sep 2;8(9):244. doi: 10.3390/v8090244. PMID: 27598190; PMCID: PMC5035958.

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