Posted September 23, 2015
During the winter flu and cold season, many people have a phobia about germs, and with good reason. When someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks, germ droplets go airborne and can land up to six feet away. Take steps to protect yourself and others from germs that spread colds or flu:
1. Keep hands clean – Throughout the day, wash your hands with soap and water, making sure to scrub between the fingers, or use hand sanitizer to remove germs. Try not to touch your face, nose or eyes with your hands or shake hands with others, as this is a common way for flu and cold germs to spread.
Remember to sneeze or cough into a tissue, not your hand, and put it in the trash. If a tissue isn’t handy, lift up your arm and sneeze into your shoulder, catching germs in the bend of your arm. Wash your hands with soap or use sanitizer to control germs.
2. Avoid touching surfaces – Germs can live on hard surfaces for up to two hours. So try not to touch surfaces where germs may lurk, such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, computer keyboards, telephones, breakroom tables, refrigerator handles, microwave buttons, restaurant menus, etc.
3. Stay home – If you’re not feeling well, try to stay home to avoid sharing your germs with others. If you notice someone around you is sick, keep at least six feet away to avoid having germs land on you. Also avoid sharing work supplies during this time.
4. Fight back – Health experts advise getting a flu shot to lower the risk for infection. Also consider taking a zinc supplement for a healthy immune system. Zinc is available in a variety of over-the-counter medications and products, including dark chocolate and peanuts. Don’t forget grandma’s favorite medicine: chicken soup. It contains cysteine, which helps control mucus and congestion.
5. Add moisture – Running your furnace helps keep you warm on a cold day, but it also can dry out the air. Researchers discovered that humidity helps lower transmission of cold and flu germs. Running a humidifier will help keep moisture levels high.
It’s easy to confuse the flu and a cold because the symptoms are similar. Recognize the difference by looking for the flu F.A.C.T.S.:
- F – Fever
- A – Aches
- C – Chills
- T – Tiredness
- S – Sudden onset