Being sick is no fun at all, whether it’s a mild cold or the flu. It wasn’t until I was pregnant that I got the flu for the first time, and hopefully the last. Now that I know how awful it is, I never want to get it again.
Follow these 10 tips to avoid getting a cold or the flu this winter and let’s all stay healthy this year.
Stay Away from Sick People
The flu virus is spread through droplets made when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes or talks. The flu virus can also spread when people touch something that the flu virus is on and then touch their mouth, eyes or nose.
You may want to keep your distance from sick people for a few days. People that have the flu are contagious as early as one day before they exhibit symptoms and can continue to pass the flu virus along for up to 5 to 7 days after they’ve become sick. Children, severely ill people and those with weakened immune systems can actually infect others for longer periods.
Stay Home if You Are Sick
The flu is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs caused by the influenza virus. It causes countless hospital stays and deaths each year. The CDC recommends that if you do become sick to stay home an extra 24 hours after your fever has passed. The flu can be very dangerous for children and those with weak immune systems. Almost 20,000 children under age 5 are hospitalized from complications due to the flu, such as pneumonia.
Don’t let your stubbornness about staying home get someone else sick.
Wash Your Hands Often
Do you know how to properly wash your hands? Sounds like a silly question, but you’d be surprised how many people aren’t washing correctly. Cleaning your hands is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. You should wash your hands before, during and after you handle food. You should also wash them when you’ve been around someone who is ill. After you use the bathroom, helped a child use the bathroom or changed a diaper, you should always wash your hands. When you blow your nose, cough or sneeze you should also wash your hands.
To properly wash your hands simply run them under water and lather with soap. Make sure to get in between your fingers, under your nails and on the back of your hands. Do this for 20 seconds.
A fun way to get children to wash their hands for 20 seconds is to have them sing the happy birthday song twice.
Then rinse your hands with water and dry them. Turn off the faucet with a paper towel. If you aren’t able to wash your hands, then you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.
Don’t Touch Your Eyes, Nose or Mouth
Do you have a nail-biting habit? Do you rub your eyes when you’re tired or put your finger to your mouth when you’re thinking? These seem like small things, but if you’ve touched something with the flu virus, you will regret it. You might not even notice that you do it, but it is an easy way for the flu virus to reach you.
Does your little one like to pick his nose? Now is a good time to have a talk about why you shouldn’t put your finger up there. Try to keep your hands away from these areas and you might avoid the flu this season.
Clean and Disinfect Commonly Touched Areas
The flu virus doesn’t last long on surfaces, less than 24 hours experts say. You can clean them with a mild soap. You don’t need to bleach everything. The medical community largely agrees that the flu virus is transferred mainly from human to human contact and not so much from surface contact.
It’s still a good idea to make sure commonly touched areas are cleaned often. Door knobs, telephones, elevator buttons, keyboards, remote controls, refrigerator doors and toilets are all commonly touched areas that should be cleaned regularly.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep deprivation has an adverse effect on immune function and chronic sleep loss can increase an individual’s vulnerability to infectious diseases according to the National Sleep Foundation. Most people don’t get the recommended amount of sleep. There are 9 age categories sited. School age children, age 6 to 13 years, should get 9 to 11 hours of sleep a day while teenagers, age 14 to 17, should get 8 to 10 hours. Adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Are you and your children getting enough sleep?
Keep Your Fluids Up
Keeping hydrated is very important. The recommendation is 8 glasses of water a day. This will keep the lining of your nose moist. The first line of defense against germs is the mucous membrane in the nose. This traps germs and keeps them from getting to your lungs. If you are dehydrated it will dry out. Doctors recommend spacing the 8 glasses of water out evenly throughout your day. Coffee and tea don’t count because the caffeine content is dehydrating.
Stress directly influences your immune system. Have you noticed when you’re stressed that you’re more likely catch a cold? Stress weakens your immune system which makes it harder for your body to fight off infection. Make it a point in your life to let go of as much stress as you can so you can enjoy a healthy life.
Exercise increases your circulation and blood flow giving your immune system a chance to find a virus such as the flu before it spreads. Make sure to add regular exercise to your routine for better health.
Get the Flu Vaccine
This is a topic for debate. Doctors recommend anyone over the age of 6 months get a flu vaccine. Many people have personal beliefs about its safety, which is why I listed it last. Make your own decision.