While we were taught in kindergarten that sharing is a good thing, no one wants to share their germs! Here are a few simple things you can do to help reduce the chances of receiving an unhealthy gift — like a cold! — this year.
Use common sense
One of the best ways to avoid catching a cold is to steer clear of someone who has one. Many people suffering the effects of a cold are thoughtful enough or feel ill enough to limit social interaction, but some are not. If you have a coworker or friend showing all the symptoms — cough, runny nose, congestion and a scratchy throat — politely avoid them, especially during the first few days when they may be most infectious.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), washing your hands is the single most important way of stopping the spread of viral and bacterial infections. Wash your hands often, especially during cold and flu season. Also wash your hands after blowing your nose. If your child has a cold, it’s a good idea to wash their toys after play.
And look out for that bathroom towel! If you or someone in your family has a cold, put up a separate towel in the bathroom for healthy members to use. Also avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes, if you can — you could be giving germs a free ride into your body. Visit WebMD for more about the value of hand washing.
Take care of yourself
During the cold and flu season, be especially vigilant about doing all the things that keep you healthy during the year: get enough sleep, exercise regularly, get fresh air, eat well, drink plenty of liquids and limit your intake of alcohol. A daily multi-vitamin is also a good idea. Smokers have a much higher likelihood of getting a cold or other respiratory infection, so consider cutting back or quitting altogether this winter season.
Most of all, relax! Stress takes a significant toll on your immune system. Check WebMD for more ways to keep yourself healthy.
Don’t go dry
Winter dryness is uncomfortable for most people, leading to dry skin and sore sinuses. Did you know that dry, irritated sinuses are more likely to get infected? Turning down the heat and using a saline spray or well-maintained humidifier will help with this problem.
Keep your germs to yourself
We know we should all be considerate and stay away from others when we are sick, but daily obligations often make that hard. If, despite your best efforts, you catch a cold and have to be around other people, be conscious of keeping your germs to yourself. Though we’ve been taught from childhood to cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze, it’s actually better to grab a tissue (which should immediately be thrown away.)
There is no certain way to prevent a cold from following you home this season, but there are some smart habits that can help you avoid one. If you are able to follow these tips, odds are better that you can avoid a germy gift that keeps on giving.
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