It seems I can’t go a day this winter season without hearing someone say “I’m really sick” or “I am just getting over a huge thing” or “The worst bug is going through my family.” For some reason sickness spreads rapidly during the winter season. Blame it on runny noses and big family gatherings. Whatever the culprit, you are still at risk even with Christmas in the rear view mirror. Cold, flu and RSV season last well into March in most areas. Here are a few ways to keep those germs at bay until spring comes.
Get the flu shot. This preventative measure protects against certain kinds of flu strains. While it won’t keep away the cold, the flu shot helps your body get an immunity to this year’s strain. Here’s how it works: the flu virus changes genetically every year. Scientists (and other really smart people) predict each year what the new strain will be. We then expose ourselves to a weak or dead flu virus to give our bodies a chance to create an immunity against it. You have two options: regular ol’ flu shot or the new flu mist. The flu mist has a live virus in it, but is not harmful. If you are pregnant or a senior, you might not be an ideal candidate for the flu mist. However, if you are scared of needles, the flu mist is absolutely painless. Most insurance companies will cover the flu shot and it can be offered at doctors offices, pharmacies and local community centers.
Wash your hands. Most germs spread from hand to hand contact. Someone sneezes and touches a doorknob and then you grab the doorknob, and get infected. Wash your hands well after going to the bathroom, before eating anything and after you blow your nose. Keep your hands away from your face or anything you put in your mouth until you have washed. Water should be at a hot temperature (don’t burn yourself!) to kill off the germs. Use a quarter size of soap and sing “Happy Birthday” (out loud or to yourself, whichever you prefer) while you lather. Rinse well and dry. For extra precaution, try not to open the door handle with your bare hand. Use a coat or paper towel to avoid touching the handle.
Take care of yourself. If you immune system is weakened, then you have a greater chance of getting sick. Not getting enough sleep, eating poorly, excessive amounts of stress: all of these will lead to a weakened immune system and puts you in sickness’ path.
If you are sick, stay home. And encourage your co-workers to do the same. Germs get spread when sick people do not stay home. Nothing drives me more crazy when a co-worker comes to work with a lingering flu or someone next to me at the movie theater can’t stop sneezing or coughing. If you fall into the same predicament, stay home. Don’t share the joy.