Winter is coming…along with the flu. It’s our old friend who leaves us sniffing, sneezing and staying in bed. Sounds fun, right? (Wrong.) Unfortunately, the flu and the common cold are not unfamiliar to many of us this time of year. While the sickness reaches a climax in January and February, it can start as early as October and linger as late as May.
Here is a list of things to remember, and things to avoid, to stay healthy in the winter.
- Maintain good daily health by:
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating well
- Staying hydrated. Especially if you have a stuffy nose, the natural instinct is to breathe through your mouth. This can dry up the mouth, which is bad for your oral health, and can also increase the risk of germs entering your body.
- Stay clean. Ignoring the little things can bring big problems in the future. Be sure to:
- Wash your hands. As a little kid, you are told this a countless amount of times. Turns out, there’s a reason. Clean hands can prevent sickness from growing. Be sure to use warm water and soap or a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your mouth! The golden rule applies here: if you don’t want to be sneezed on, don’t sneeze on others. They’ll thank you for it, I promise.
- Disinfect, disinfect, disinfect. Touching any shared surface has the potential to be harmful. One of the biggest ways a virus spreads is by a person touching infected objects followed by touching their face. It’s a good idea to regularly clean surfaces and objects – especially during flu season.
- Brush and floss your teeth. Oral health really does matter – particularly when you are sick. Taking care of your mouth will help protect it from any infection.
- Don’t share utensils. To some, sharing a fork with your significant other is cute. Let’s hope sharing your sickness is, too…
- Maintain good daily health by:
Try to Avoid:
- Sick or recently sick people. While two may be better than one in many instances, this is not one of those times. It’s best to keep a friendly distance and wash your hands after interacting with other people.
- Touching your eyes, nose and mouth. The more you touch your face, the higher potential for germs to get into your system. Remember to use hand sanitizer often.
- Going out before 24 hours after your symptoms are gone. Your body is still healing and fighting the last battle—even if you don’t feel like you have symptoms. You are contagious one day before your symptoms show up, and 5-7 days after. Give your body (and your friends) a break.
- Cough drops and syrup. C’mon, let’s be honest…cherry flavoring does not taste like real cherry. Besides the deceiving and disappointing flavor labels, they can be very harmful to your teeth. If you do end up taking these be sure to use mouthwash shortly after. If you need the help cough drops and cough syrup offer but would like to avoid the harmful effects they can have on your teeth, consider some alternatives.
If you are prone to the flu, or even just the common cold, try heeding our advice. Hopefully this year you’ll spend fewer days feeling miserable, with a tissue box and a cup of tea as your only companions, and more days feeling happy and healthy.
How do you avoid the flu or fight against it in the winter?