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Preventing Colds & Flu
An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but keeping the common cold out of the house is a little tougher. Now that school is back in session, kids (and adults) are inside more often, and more likely to pass germs around. Before you know it, someone in your family is sick.
Preventing a cold
You probably cannot completely prevent your family from ever catching a cold, but there are many ways to reduce the risks. And, once someone becomes sick, there are things you can do to keep it from spreading.
Wash your hands. It seems so simple, but washing your hands regularly is one of the best ways to avoid cold and flu germs. Washing with soap and water is all that is needed and experts recommend washing for 20 seconds – long enough to sing the “Happy Birthday” song. Be sure to get plenty of lather and wash between your fingers, on both sides of your hands, and all the way up to your wrists.
Wash your hands:
Whenever you shake hands
After touching your nose or mouth
After using the toilet
After being in a public place such as a grocery store, shopping mall, or school.
Before and after preparing food
Before and after caring for someone who is sick
After changing a diaper
After coughing, blowing your nose, or sneezing
What About Hand Sanitizers?
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can kill off most bacteria and some viruses, but they tend to kill off the “good” bacteria as well as the “bad.” That’s why experts recommend washing over sanitizers in most cases. But they can be helpful when soap and water is unavailable. Just keep in mind that sanitizers will not remove dirt.
Eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest. Good nutrition, especially eating lots of fruits and vegetables, is important to keeping your family’s immune systems strong. Your body is better able to fight off colds and flue when you are well rested, and regular exercise will also strengthen your immune system.
Keep it clean. Work spaces, telephones, door knobs, light switches, and elevator buttons are notorious for harboring germs. Sanitize them with a germ-killing spray or wipes, and keep wipes handy at your desk to wipe off the surfaces you touch frequently like keyboards, phone buttons and handsets, and writing surfaces. Or, to skip the chemicals in sprays and wipes, clean your surfaces with a microfiber Norwex cloth!
Contain that sneeze. If there isn’t a tissue handy, sneezing into your elbow is much better than sneezing into your hands, which are a common place for germs to congregate. Germs are spread quickly in the droplets of fluid contained in a sneeze. Teach your kids to sneeze into a handkerchief, tissue, or their elbow to lessen the risk of spreading germs.
Keep Away. Unless you are a caregiver, try to keep your distance from those who are visibly sick. If you or your children are sick, stay home from school or work and take care of the symptoms to avoid infecting others with your germs. Remember that antibiotics will not work on the flu virus, and that most colds will get better on their own in a week to 10 days.
Take zinc and vitamins. Zinc lozenges or sprays can help shorten the effects of a cold, as can Vitamin C. Vitamin D is also believed to help shorten the life of a cold.
Like most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to colds and flu. By taking a few extra steps this season, you can reduce the chances of your family catching and sharing the common cold and the flu.