Keeping colds and flu at bay can seem daunting, especially if you’re surrounded by folks who are coughing and sneezing at home, work or school. Colds and flu are caused by viruses, which can easily be transmitted from one person to another or from a contaminated surface to a person.
But you don’t need to suffer. Here are six ways to stay healthy this flu and cold season:
Get a flu vaccination
The flu vaccine remains the top method to prevent getting influenza. This year’s vaccine is a good match to tackle the most common strains of the flu virus circulating nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health experts recommend anyone over 6 months of age get a flu vaccine. Getting a flu vaccine is especially important for the elderly and people with respiratory problems and compromised immune systems. The flu vaccine can be administered by injection or nasal spray.
Wash your hands
Hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways to avoid getting flu and colds. To completely get rid of germs, scrub your hands (the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails) for 20 seconds or more using soap and water. Some folks time themselves by singing “Happy Birthday” twice while washing their hands. Use an alcohol-based sanitizer if you can’t get to soap and water.
Hands harbor a multitude of germs, so keep them away from your nose and mouth, which are common routes for germs to enter the body. If you have the urge to cough or sneeze, do so into the crook of your elbow instead of your hands. You’re less likely to spread germs that way.
Maintain a clean environment
Keep your surroundings clean at home and at work. Germs can thrive just about anywhere – computer keyboards, door knobs, telephones, light switches, pens, kitchen counters, table tops and more. Use antiseptic wipes daily to clean your office space and high-traffic areas at home.
Avoid sick people
If possible, stay away from or limit your exposure to sick relatives, friends and colleagues. Encourage co-workers to say home if they are sick, because they could put others at risk by spreading germs. Don’t shake hands, kiss or hug family, friends and co-workers if you suspect they are under the weather. If you do shake hands, wash them immediately.
Embrace a healthy lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout the year is another great way to avoid getting sick during cold and flu season. Health experts advise people to get an adequate amount of sleep, exercise regularly, avoid smoking and drink alcohol in moderation. Eating healthy foods – including lots of fruits and vegetables – will also enhance your immune system to ward off colds and flu.
Navigating the flu and cold season will be a lot of easier if you keep these easy steps in mind.