For most of us, fall and winter means less time outdoors in the fresh air and more time spent in close quarters with those that we work, play, learn and live with. It is a great opportunity for cold and flu viruses to work their way from one person to the next. While we all try to stay healthy, it is especially important for individuals with chronic conditions and compromised immune systems to take extra measures to avoid illness. Here are some simple things you can do to stay well and keep those nasty bugs at bay.
1. Wash your hands! The single most important thing you can do to help stop the spread of germs is good hand washing. Hand hygiene is critical to interrupt the spread of infectious diseases, such as the common cold, influenza, and gastrointestinal illnesses. If soap and water are not available, alcohol based hand sanitizers that are at least 60% alcohol can be effective.
2. Do not touch! Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. These are the most common places for viruses to enter the body.
3. Lay low-If you are feeling ill, stay home and limit your contact with others.
4. Flu shots– Sudden fever, body aches, sore throat and a dry cough are all symptoms of the flu. Yearly vaccinations offer protection against the flu and are now available in a nasal spray. See your healthcare provider or HTC to discuss if a flu vaccine and which method is right for you.
5. Eat well-Maintain a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and antioxidants that provide the body and the immune system with the power it needs to fight off germs and keep you well.
6. Exercise– 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise (brisk walking) a day increases blood flow which helps to boost the immune system and ward off illness.
7. Go to bed! Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night and kids need 8 or more. The body re-energizes and repairs itself while we sleep. Getting enough rest is a vital part in staying well.
8. Be happy! The hormones the body releases when stressed can lower the body’s resistance to fight off germs. Identify the sources of stress in your life and find ways to reduce them.
Incorporating these simple measures into your life will help keep you on the path to wellness and will make you victorious in the”battle of the bugs!”