5 Tips to Help You Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season
With fall in full swing, it’s time to prepare for the upcoming cold and flu season. The common cold and the influenza virus are both highly contagious upper respiratory infections (URIs) that most often occur during the late fall and winter months. Symptoms vary in severity depending on the patient, but the most common symptoms of both the cold and flu are nasal congestion, coughing, sore throat and body aches. Read on to find out how you and your family can stay healthy and safe during cold and flu season.
Wash your hands regularly
One of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs is by washing your hands frequently. Use soap and warm water, rubbing your hands together for at least 20 seconds. Don’t forget to clean between your fingers and under your nails. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer as a backup option.
Avoid close contact with sick individuals
If someone around you is visibly ill or showing cold and flu symptoms, try to keep a safe distance and minimize direct contact. Avoid shaking hands, hugging or sharing utensils with them. If possible, suggest that they stay home until they recover and are no longer contagious. Individuals infected with the cold or flu are most contagious in the first 3 or 4 days after symptoms begin, with some being contagious for as long as a week.
Practice good hygiene
Viruses can enter your body through your eyes, nose and mouth. To minimize the risk of infection, avoid touching these areas with unwashed hands. Be mindful of habits like nail-biting, rubbing your eyes or touching your face absentmindedly. Be sure to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of used tissues immediately and wash your hands afterward to help prevent the spread of infection.
There are some other hygiene practices that can help prevent further spread of cold and flu. Keep your living space clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs, countertops and light switches. In addition, make it a habit to regularly wash commonly shared linens such as blankets, bedding and towels.
Stay active and eat a balanced diet
A strong immune system is your best defense against infections. Regular exercise, a balanced diet and staying hydrated can all contribute to maintaining a healthy immune system. Maintaining a diet varied and nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins while getting a minimum of 30 minutes of daily exercise can help keep your body healthy and strong to fight off infection.
To protect yourself and others, consider getting vaccinated against the flu. Flu vaccines can significantly reduce the risk of contracting the virus, as well as lessen the severity of symptoms if you do get sick. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best flu vaccination options for you.
Midwest Express Clinic is your one-stop-shop for all your cold and flu needs, offering flu tests, shots and treatment services 7 days a week at all clinic locations. To find a clinic nearest you, visit midwestexpressclinic.com/locations.