Cold and Flu Prevention Tips by Dr. Michael Smith, Chief Medical Editor for WebMD
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Whether it’s at the mall or around the dinner table, many Americans will be spreading the common cold (and in some cases the flu) instead of joy and good cheer this holiday season. Confined spaces, dropping temperatures, and the stress of preparation are just some of the factors that make us more susceptible to illness during the holidays.
To prep for lots of people time, WebMD’s Cold & Flu Map provides hyper-local (down to your zip code) symptom trends weeks in advance of the CDC.
· Visit Map at: http://symptoms.webmd.com/cold-and-flu-map-tool
Dr. Michael Smith, Chief Medical Editor for WebMD, has graciously provided us with tips to help us fight the cold and flu season. I hope these tips are helpful to you and your family.
Cold and Flu Prevention Tips
1. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth: The germs that cause cold and flu spread when you inhale infected droplets in the air. Those droplets spread through coughing, sneezing or talking. Germs can also be spread by touching surfaces that have the flu virus in it & then touching your mouth or eye or nose.
2. Frequently wash your hands: While hand sanitizer is great; don’t rely on it as a sole antibacterial source. Alcohol based sanitizers kill cold and flu germs if soap and water are not available. It’s the act of rubbing the hands together for at least 20 seconds that is going to eliminate germs. In addition, you should try to avoid shaking hands.
3. Clean areas you frequently touch: At the gym, office, grocery store – wipe handles, railings, keyboard, door knobs, telephone/fax-machine buttons, and equipment with anti-bacterial wipes. Don’t share pens or pencils. Clean your cellphone screen.
4. Prepare: Know what symptoms are prevalent in your area by using tools, such as WebMD’s Cold and Flu Map. The Cold and Flu Map enables you to see a county-by-county view of mild, moderate, or severe cold and flu symptom levels in your area just by typing in your zip code.With this knowledge, take precautions when in public areas.
5. Stay home when you are sick: Avoid spreading symptoms by limiting time in public areas. You can remain contagious for up to 5-7 days.
6. Get the flu vaccine: Vaccines are the surest way to prevent the flu. Get the flu vaccine every year as new vaccines are developed each year to protect against new strains.
7. Boost your immune system:
- Eat a well-rounded, nutritious diet. Get plenty of Vitamin C and Zinc. Load up on protein to boost your immune system.
- Drink water to constantly flush toxins.
- Stress can wreak havoc on your immune system. Go for a run, take a yoga class; do something to relax.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep. Sleep is a natural immune system boost and defense against infection. Avoid alcohol as it interferes with sleep.
- Quit smoking.
8. Drink hot tea: Steam from hot drinks, such as tea will stimulate the hair follicles in the nose (the cilia) to flush germs. Also, using lemon will thin mucus lining.