Tis’ the season for sharing fun, food and fellowship with family and friends. But it's also prime time for colds and flu. What to do? Here are some simple tips to keep you healthy so you can enjoy all the joys of the season.
Wash your hands.
Simple, we know. But physicians and experts agree – it’s the easiest way you can cut down on the transfer of germs. Whether you’re at home, church, or school, following basic rules for hand hygiene will keep infections at bay. Germs can spread in several different ways – from person to person and from objects to person. So even if you haven’t been in contact with someone who’s sick, you can still pick up their germs!When’s it most important to wash your hands?
- After using the bathroom
- Before eating
- After sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose
- After visiting someone that’s sick
- Whenever your hands are dirty
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.To help keep germs from spreading to family and friends, it’s best to limit interactions when someone’s fighting a cold. This works both ways – if you or a family member is sick, think twice before heading to work or school.
Keep your hands away from your face.
Many people reflexively do it without thinking – scratch their nose, rub their eyes and wipe their mouth. But this is a no-no and sure way to infect yourself with a cold virus.
Cover your mouth and nose.Have the sniffles or a cold? Be considerate to others by keeping tissues handy and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze. This is an important skill for children to learn, too.
Disinfect your workspace, bathroom and kitchen.
These areas are hotbeds for infection. Clean regularly with anti-bacterial cleaners, wipe down your desk, and use disinfectant on countertops daily. Go the extra mile by sanitizing doorknobs, light switches and the handles on your refrigerator several times a week.
Get the flu shot.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the best way to protect against seasonal flu (and its potential complications) is to get the flu vaccine each year. It’s recommended for children ages 6 month and older. The optimal time for the shot is between October and November, although you can get it later in the flu season. If you do contract the flu, CDC recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone throughout the use of fever reducing medicine – except to get medical care.Click here for more flu prevention information.
Click here for a downloadable guide to the flu – signs and symptoms and best ways to treat it.
Develop healthy habits.
Following general health advice can help keep your immune system strong. It’s easy to underestimate the power of adequate rest and good nutrition, but both are critical to staying well. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep is the best place to start. Then aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week, and don’t smoke. You can also add foods to your diet that are known to have immune boosting effects like citrus fruits (grapefruit, oranges, tangerines and lemons), red bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, garlic, and yogurts with live and active cultures.
Stay home and rest.
If all else fails and you’re feeling under the weather – or are experiencing symptoms of the flu like severe aches in your joints and muscles, weakness, headache, a dry cough, sore throat and runny nose – staying in to rest is your best bet. It helps you recover more quickly and prevents the spread of the virus. Your family, friends and co-workers will thank you!