Along with the arrival of winter comes the season for colds and influenza. We gather together for the holidays and indoor activities to share many things, including germs.
Though there is no cure for the cold and flu, there are things we can do to limit the spread of these viruses and take care of ourselves. The most important is hand washing, especially after being out in public. Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose or mouth until your hands are washed.
Learn how to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze by sneezing into your elbow to prevent the droplets from becoming airborne. If someone is sick in the household, keep surfaces that are used by the other family members clean, such as doorknobs, handles or countertops. You can use soap and water or a disinfectant.
Make sure the infected person uses their own towel and throws away any tissues they use.
While there isn’t any direct evidence that a healthy lifestyle prevents infection, we can try to maintain a strong immune system by getting adequate sleep, good nutrition and exercise.
Stress has been shown to lower a person’s immune system and may make them more susceptible to infections. And avoid smoking since this irritates airways and makes a person more susceptible to respiratory infections.
Influenza vaccines are available that may help you to avoid getting the flu during the winter months.
When a person does get sick they should stay home from work, school and other public places to prevent the spread of the illness, and take care of themselves with plenty of fluids and sleep. Children should stay home from school or daycare until they are free of fever, vomiting or diarrhea for 24 hours to prevent spreading it to other children and adults in the school or daycare.
Also keep in mind, it is very important to stay away from the elderly and infants when you are sick since they are more prone to complications from the flu.