Monday, January 21, 2013

10 Tactics to Prevent Colds & Flu

It's flu season and in Higher Ed, that means keeping bodies in seats through awareness, prevention.  It's your call whether you get vaccinated (I didn't this year), but everyone can wash a little longer and more frequently.  These posters went up around our locations last week... I thought I'd share the love... and a tip sheet for ya'.

Gross Sickness Avoidance Tip Sheet

1.    Wash Your Hands and Avoid Touching your Face –
Most cold and flu viruses are spread by direct contact and the germs can live for hours on keyboards, phones, etc., only to be picked up by the next person. These viruses enter the body through the nose, mouth and eyes. This is a key way that children pick up germs and pass them on to parents, siblings and friends.

2.    Use Clean Towels and Cups – Change or wash your hand towels every three or four days during cold and flu season. When washing, use hot water to kill the germs. Also, keep a supply of clean cups in each restroom.

3.    Keep Surfaces Clean –
Keep a regular cleaning schedule and thoroughly sanitize those areas that a lot of people are in contact with.

4.    Drink Plenty of Fluids –
Water flushes the toxins from your body and prevents dehydration. The typical adult needs eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids a day.

5.    Go Outside – Regular exposure to fresh air is important, especially in cold weather when indoor heating can dry you out and make your body more susceptible to colds and flu viruses. Open your windows a crack every now and then to circulate the air.

6.    Stay Physically Fit – Aerobic exercise helps increase the body's natural defense cells so join the local gym with a friend, or jump on a treadmill and walk while you watch your favorite show. A fit body is better equipped to fight off germs.

7.    Eat Plenty of Fruits and Veggies – Colorful fruits and vegetables are natural disease-fighting foods that contain high amounts of phytonutrients. Consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and choose from those that are fresh, canned, dried, frozen, or in juice form.

8.    Don't Smoke – Smoking zaps your immune system and dries your nasal passages. Studies have also shown that smoke paralyzes cilia, the delicate hairs that line the mucous membranes in your nose and lungs. Cilia play a key role in sweeping viruses out of your body.

9.    Rest and Relax – Studies have shown that stressed individuals have up to twice as many colds as non-stressed people. Meditating and relaxing daily can strengthen your immune system by increasing interleukins (important for immune system response) in your bloodstream.

10.    Keep Tissues in All Rooms – Starting in October, make sure you have a box of tissues in every main room of your home, your car, and at your workplace. You need tissues widely available so that anyone who has to sneeze, cough or blow their nose can easily grab one and reduce the spread of germs.

Winterize Your Medicine Cabinet
A survey on medicine cabinets found that cold and flu medicines are the number one item missing when they are needed. When cold and flu medicines are found in the medicine cabinet, they are likely to be expired. Since it's important to have the proper medicine on hand when you need it, take some time this month to give your medicine cabinet a much-needed clean out and make it ready for cold and flu season. What every medicine cabinet should have:
  • A thermometer
  • A first aid tip sheet for quick medical reference
  • A cough suppressant
  • A cough expectorant
  • A supply of lozenges and throat spray
  • A daytime, non-drowsy cold remedy
  • A multi-symptom, nighttime cold remedy
  • Pain reliever (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin)
  • Allergy and sinus relief (antihistamine, decongestant)
  • Digestive health (anti-diarrheal, anti-gas, antacid)
  • Any updated prescription medications
Source: Cheryl Bell, MS RD CDE

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