It’s that time of year again when a simple bus ride can provide such a symphony of coughs and sneezes that we fear for our personal health. The good news is that there are steps we can all take for common cold prevention and actions on how to avoid catching the flu as well.
In this post, we’ll discuss why symptoms spike in the winter season, offer specific ways to prevent getting a cold or the flu and suggest five daily practices that can reduce chances of acquiring either ailment.
About Flu/Cold Season
Each fall and winter, millions of Americans suffer from common colds and influenza (better known as “the flu”). This season is a product of many factors: More people staying indoors and within close quarters of one another for easier spreadability, a lack of Vitamin D from sun exposure and other natural elements that help the immune system stay strong, and viruses that can typically sustain longer lifespans in the dry air that usually accompanies colder temperatures.
The most popular way to combat influenza is with the widely available flu vaccine, traditionally administered in the form of a shot or nasal spray. These immunizations are typically very affordable or sometimes even offered free of charge with some insurance plans. It’s a quick, easy option that can be attained in a medical facility or pharmacy and has been proven to reduce the chances of getting the flu by up to 60%.
How to Prevent a Cold
While there are no vaccines for cold prevention, there are many different methods for staying healthy during cold season. Some choose to take vitamins (especially those containing Zinc); others are vigilant about keeping area spaces sanitized and clean; and limiting exposure to those who already have a cold.
Read on for five recommended daily practices that may reduce your chances for getting sick from a cold or the flu.
5 Daily Practices for Prevention
- Wash Hands
It goes without saying, but vigilant hand washing is one of the top defenses we have against catching a cold or the flu. Because we touch so many surfaces as we navigate the routine of our day, our hands are exposed to a bevy of germs from other people’s hands. From doorknobs to sink fixtures to menus at restaurants, so many things we touch have been touched by others.
It’s especially important to wash our hands before meals or anytime our hands may come in contact with our mouths.
- Avoid Sick People
It may seem like common sense, but if you know that someone in your family or social circle is sick, do your best to avoid contact with them until they are well. That can be more difficult if it’s a colleague who you share a workspace with, but in those instances if you have the option of working from home (should they elect not to stay home while ill), you should do your best to limit exposure.
- Disinfect Surfaces
Both at work and at home, it’s always a good idea to regularly sanitize countertops, doorknobs and other commonly used surfaces. Maintaining a clean environment limits the opportunity for viruses to survive and reduces the chances of them spreading from person to person if they remain viable.
- Get Enough Rest
When we don’t sleep a sufficient amount of hours each night, our immune system can become compromised, leading to a greater susceptibility for catching colds and the flu. Make sure you give your body at least the seven recommended hours of slumber to ensure you’re in the best possible shape to fight disease.
- Make Exercise and Healthy Eating a Priority
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and healthy proteins coupled with an active lifestyle is a wonderful defense against illness. Both good nutrition and regular exercise help strengthen our immune system.
Talk to a Doctor
There are several ways Western Washington Medical Group can assist you with flu and cold prevention. Choose from the following below:
- To request an appointment with our Family Practice, go here.
- To locate a Walk-In Clinic that’s convenient for you to visit, go here.
- For more general inquiries, complete the form on this page.
We look forward to helping you stay healthy.