5 Tips for Avoiding the Flu This Fall and Winter
You know the telltale signs: achy muscles, pounding headache, scratchy throat and the chills. You visit your doctor and they confirm what you already suspected — you’ve got the flu.
Being sick is no fun, and that’s why the best way to deal with the season’s biggest bully is to avoid it altogether. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a flu vaccine as your first line of defense1, there are additional, simple ways to keep germs at bay during this year’s cold and flu season.
1. Stop the Spread
We understand that you may be tempted to clock in at work or school while under the weather, but the best thing to do is to stay home and spare your coworkers the germs. A study from the University of Arizona found that when someone in the office is sick, traces of the infectious virus can be found on commonly touched surfaces — think doorknobs, coffeepot handles, telephones and copy machines.2 Beyond simply being inconsiderate, coming in to work sick risks an office-wide contagion that could result in a delay in workflow larger than just your temporary absence.
2. Wipe it Down
Another way to stop the spread of germs at work? Regularly clean and disinfect your desk, telephone, doorknobs and other commonly used items. The same goes for your home when a partner, child or roommate is sick. At the gym, wipe down fitness and weight machines before use.
3. Wash your Hands
It’s one of the easiest ways to stop the spread of germs. The American Journal of Public Health recently published a review that found good hand washing techniques reduced the transmission of gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses, helping people avoid the flu.3
And while we hate to question your hygiene habits, chances are high that you’re not washing long enough or often enough. Be sure to scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, and lather up before eating, after using the bathroom, and even after blowing your nose. If you can’t wash your hands right away, hand sanitizer may help.
4. Avoid Touching your Eyes, Nose and Mouth
One of the most common ways that the flu spreads is by touching your eyes, nose or mouth after coming in contact with a contaminated surface, giving germs easy entry into your body. When you can, avoid touching these parts of the body.
5. Get your Shut Eye
Finally, getting adequate sleep is an all-around good strategy to keeping your immune system in tip-top shape. Just like you don’t perform your best after an all-nighter, neither does your immune system. Be sure to get plenty of zzz’s.1
While avoiding the flu completely may be impossible, you can take steps to protect your health and significantly decrease the chances of getting bedridden this season. Always talk to your doctor if you have questions about your health. If you’re looking for additional support and resources on women’s health, sign up for Change the Cycle’s newsletter.
- Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. August 2, 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm
- Blue, Alexis. “Germs spread fast at work, study finds.” January 30, 2013. https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/germs-spread-fast-at-work-study-finds
- Warren-Gash C, et al. “Hand hygiene to reduce community transmission of influenza and acute respiratory tract infection: a systematic review,” Influenza and other respiratory viruses. 2013 Sep; 7(5): 738-749. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23043518
- Posted by Dot.
- On December 14, 2017