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Stay Healthy This Cold and Flu Season

It's that time of year again…You're going to get bombarded with a boatload of viruses and germs. Your runny-nosed toddler will want to be held. Your sick co-worker will blow their nose and then sit down to use your computer without washing hands. A complete stranger will have a coughing fit all over you as you stand in the grocery line. In a year where the flu season has already begun to hit, what can you do?

The best way to prevent catching a cold or the flu is by following simple, preventive measures. The experts agree getting your flu vaccine should be best for your body's number one defense, but it's not the only thing you should do. Here are some additional tips:

  1. Wash your hands frequently, after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, being around ill people, and, especially, before you eat.
  2. Avoid sharing objects such as pens, pencils, food, drinking glasses and personal items. Wash your hands after touching doorknobs, telephones, remote controls ATMs, elevator buttons, and anything in a public restroom. Frequently clean those items.
  3. Keep your hands away from your face. It's easy to get infected with a cold or flu virus. All you need to do is come in contact with a virus on a surface and then touch your eyes, mouth or nose. By washing your hands, you lesson your chance of infection. But it is still good idea to avoid touching your face as much as possible during the cold and flu season.
  4. Get enough sleep and avoid getting "run down." A good night's sleep is essential for good health. Scientists have found that the release of certain hormones during sleep can boost your immune system. So if you're well-rested, your body can launch a strong response to annihilate an invading virus before it can make you sick.
  5. Reduce stress. Stress hormones can suppress the immune system.
  6. Use tissues for coughs and sneezes and dispose of them immediately and appropriately.
  7. Eat right and get regular exercise. Any kind of moderate exercise can improve lung and immune function.
  8. Avoid crowds and keep your distance from people whom you know are ill.

And if you already are sick, keep the following in mind:

  1. Avoid contact with the frail, very young and elderly
  2. Stay home from school or work. Your body was designed to rest during sick periods. That way, it can divert most of its energy into healing you, so you can get better faster. Everyone else will thank you for not exposing them!

Maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow this advice for a healthier cold and flu season.