By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage
Fall is a time the kids go back to school, people start spending more time indoors and flu bugs from across the globe travel to “make new friends” (infect new hosts, meaning us).
Colds and flues can now travel from one country to another in just a few hours via a carrier on an airplane. But you don’t have to go a round the world to catch a cold. You can get a virus from anyone in your immediate vicinity, coworker, random person out in public that touches something you touch. It’s so great that we all have learned to share!
Most colds and flues are not serious or life threatening, but they can make you miss work, drag down your energy levels and overall disrupt your regular life schedule.
What can you do to prevent getting sick?
Immune System Defenses
To start with, keep your immune system functioning well with these simply tips:
Get enough physical activity aka exercise. A the very least get the recommended minimum of 30 minutes of activity 5 times a day (recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine) even in 3 sets of 10 minutes of walking or stair climbing.
Make sure you drink enough water. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Water is your body’s principal chemical component, making up, on average, 60 percent of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water. For example, water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.”
How much water is enough?
The Institute of Medicine advises that men consume roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day and women consume 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.
Even apart from the above approaches, if you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate. Link to Mayo Clinic’s Water Intake article here
Get your ZZZ’s-Sleep deprivation is a torture technique. Don’t torture yourself! Get the reccomended 7-9 hours by night. And on days you are feeling run down, take an actual nap even for 20 minutes. it lets your nervous system take a break from high stress hormones and let’s your body recharge. Link to health.com “How Much Sleep Do You Really Need”
Aside from your immune system, here are some tips from the Center for Disease Control to help prevent the spread of actual germs.
How Germs Spread
Illnesses like the flu (influenza) and colds are caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. The flu and colds usually spread from person to person when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
How to Help Stop the Spread of Germs
Take care to:
• Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
• Clean your hands often
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
• Stay home when you are sick and check with a health care provider when needed
• Practice other good health habits.
Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
Cough or sneeze into a tissue and then throw it away. Cover your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.
Clean your hands often
When available, wash your hands — with soap and warm water — then rub your hands vigorously together and scrub all surfaces. Wash for 15 to 20 seconds. It is the soap combined with the scrubbing action that helps dislodge and remove germs.
When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using a gel, rub the gel in your hands until they are dry. The gel doesn’t need water to work; the alcohol in the gel kills germs that cause colds and the flu. (Source: FDA/CFSAN Food Safety A to Z Reference Guide, September 2001: Handwashing.)
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs can live for a long time (some can live for 2 hours or more) on surfaces like doorknobs, desks, and tables.
Stay home when you are sick and check with a health care provider when needed
When you are sick or have flu symptoms, stay home, get plenty of rest, and check with a health care provider as needed. Your employer may need a doctor’s note for an excused absence. Remember: Keeping your distance from others may protect them from getting sick.
Common symptoms of the flu include:
• fever (usually high)
• extreme tiredness
• sore throat
• runny or stuffy nose
• muscle aches, and
• nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, (much more common among children than adults).