As the temperatures drop, we see more and more people walking around sniffling, coughing, and sneezing. From the common cold to the flu, winter is notorious for spreading dreaded germs. Check out these 10 at-home tips that can help you stay healthy and avoid getting sick this cold and flu season.
1. Wash Your Hands Often.
Wash them whenever you come home, before each meal, after touching public surfaces, and after shaking people’s hands (not in a rude way, of course). Common surfaces such as doorknobs, tabletops, even your steering wheel, are covered in tons of germs. Washing hands is preferred over using hand sanitizers, but sanitizers are good for on-the-go use if you don’t have access to warm water and antibacterial soap.
2. Try Not To Touch Your Face.
No matter how often you wash your hands, they will still have some germs. Picking at your nose, rubbing your eyes, touching your lips/mouth, picking at the teeth, and touching your face, in general, is a surefire way to introduce bacteria and viruses to the body. If you must touch your face, be sure to wash your hands very thoroughly beforehand to avoid getting sick.
3. Get Plenty of Sleep.
When the body is exhausted, it is even more susceptible to getting sick. A tired body has a poor immune response, which is why many times those who overwork themselves will come down with a cold. Be sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
Dehydrated bodies are also at risk for a decreased immune response. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Limit caffeinated and alcoholic beverages as they dehydrate the body. Smoking also dehydrates the body and throat, while reducing the body’s immunity. Herbal teas are just fine.
5. Avoid Sick People.
This may seem obvious, but it’s also hard to do sometimes. You may live with someone that is fighting off something, and in that case, it’s hard to avoid them. If someone is coughing and sniffling on public transportation, maybe don’t sit or stand near them.
If your friends are sick, reach out and wish them well but give them some space to recover (they will understand). If someone you live with is sick, try to keep them to one room of the house and disinfect surfaces daily to prevent the spread of their germs.
6. Eat Your Greens.
If you don’t already, the cold and flu season is an important time to eat a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins to support the immune system. Specifically, try to increase your consumption of green vegetables. Greens like kale, chard, spinach, broccoli, and bok choy are known to send a chemical signal that boosts immune system function and helps to avoid getting sick.
7. Vitamin Up.
You should be getting your daily value of vitamin C from your diet, but some people fall short. During cold and flu season, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Take vitamin C supplements or drink dissolvable vitamin C packets. It’s a water-soluble vitamin, which means when your body has it’s daily value, the rest will be filtered out through the urine.
Vitamin D is also very important for immunity. It is present in certain foods, like egg yolk, salmon, tuna, mushrooms, and fortified milk and orange juice. It is also derived from sunlight exposure. Vitamin D supplements can be helpful in increasing your immunity, especially those that contain D3 (cholecalciferol), as it’s better at raising vitamin D blood levels.
Regular exercise is great for the body. It reduces stress and accelerates the circulation of lymph. Lymph contains white blood cells, which are the key responders in fighting infection in the body. In addition, when the body is stressed, it is more prone to illness. Regular exercise can keep pathogens at bay by boosting the body’s line of defense.
9. Get The Flu Shot.
The flu shot is offered for free at many pharmacies, and you can also receive it at your doctor’s office. It prevents against several strains of influenza that may be prevalent during the flu season. Not only does it protect you, but it also protects people who are unable to receive the flu vaccine. Children under 6 months of age, immunocompromised individuals, and those severely allergic to chicken or eggs should not receive the vaccine. The flu shot is extremely important; there have already been several flu-related deaths this season.
10. Be Hygenic.
Don’t share water bottles, cups, towels, utensils, toothbrushes, etc. When it comes to water bottles, clean them every day. Exposing them to public areas increases the number of germs they carry.
This winter, Totum ENT has your back. If you think you may be sick, schedule a consultation with Dr. Lisa Liberatore online or call (212) 288-2222 today!