It’s that time of year again when we start hearing that not so melodious sound of coughing and sneezing all around us. Do you want to hold your breath every time you hear someone cough or sneeze? Yikes! I just want to place a bubble around me. So from someone that has suffered from the flu, I thought I would share some ideas to help stave off those dreaded germs.
The cold and flu season typically run from November through April. It is readily spread when people are indoors and passed along from person to person and surface to surface, especially in the workplace and school. According to the CDC, people are most contagious during the first 2-3 days of contracting a cold and almost immediately and for about 5 days thereafter after being infected with the flu – even before symptoms develop.
Here are some tips for prevention that can be used at work, school or even home.
- Wash your hands for at least 15-20 seconds with soap, many times a day or sanitize with an alcohol-gel hand sanitizer, especially following contact with potentially contaminated surfaces:
- Hands or face of others – including handshakes
- Doorknob or handle (including refrigerator and microwave)
- Copier machine buttons or parts
- Another person’s keyboard or phone
- Coffee pot handle
- Elevator button
- Food or food container handled by others
- Shared books or office materials
- Following washing, turn off the faucet with a paper towel
- Dry your hands with a clean paper towel
- Use a paper towel to open the bathroom door and dispose of paper towel in a trash bin
- Use hand sanitizer between washing
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, or rubbing your nose
- Wash out your water bottle daily
- Clean shared items such as phones, keyboards, copiers, handles and doorknobs with alcohol wipes or other sanitizer type wipes
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold or flu
- Sneeze and cough into a tissue, throw the tissue away, and then wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue handy, sneeze into your elbow rather than your hand.
- Drink plenty of fluids, but do not share drinking cups or straws
- Get lots of fresh air
- Exercise regularly
- Eat healthy foods such as whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables
- Relax – stress can decrease immunity
- If you are able, take a multi-vitamin regularly with extra vitamin C
The single best thing you can do to prevent colds and flu……Wash your hands!
While we all try hard not to get a cold or the flu, it does happen. So now what?!
If you do get sick, stay at home! If you are fevered, do not return to work until you are fever free for 24 hours without a fever reducer. While you feel bad for missing work, no one wants exposed to colds and flu.
Drink plenty of water or juices (9-13 cups per day).
Get plenty of rest
Drink green tea or ginger tea to stimulate the immune system.
Call your doctor. If you have flu symptoms, they can prescribe medication to shorten the length of illness.
For more information on what you can do to prevent colds and flu, visit the Centers for Disease Control at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm.