Posted on Sep 23, 2019, 3 p.m.
The days are starting to get darker and a bit colder, this means cold and flu season is almost upon us. It may be time to remind people that there are things you can do to help prevent getting sick and a couple that really won’t.
Over recent years hand sanitizers have really gotten better, look for ones that contain at least 60% alcohol or they won’t be killing off any germs. Keep in mind you don’t need to over do it with the sanitizer a small amount goes along way, once or twice while out in public should do it; after using public transportation, a public restroom, before you eat, and before you walk into your front door.
Just because you may be using a sanitizer this does not mean you can skip washing your hands, especially after using the restroom and before you eat. Washing your hands is the most important step in protecting yourself from cold and flu germs. Even still only 5% of the population wash their hands long enough to effectively rid germs, and only 2 of 3 people use soap. Once more that faucet handle is the most contaminated surface in the restroom, be sure to use a piece of paper towel to turn it off and open the door on the way out.
You may also want to think twice about using that hand dryer, not only are they loud but they may also be hazardous to health as jet air dryers have been found to spread 1,300 times more germs that paper towels. That paper toilet seat cover may not even be worth it either in most rest rooms as they are often cleaned with disinfectant, and that thin paper really isn’t going to do much but give you peace of mind.
It may be worth pushing elevator buttons or crosswalk buttons with your knuckles, elbow, or sleeve as these buttons are grimy and filthy, especially those on the ground floor and at busy intersections.
If you are a friendly person you may want to avoid giving hugs this time of year, and avoid shaking hands. Keep an eye out for those you may think are sick and simply explain that you are not trying to be rude rather protect your health, most people will understand. Experts recommend avoiding touching anyone who is sick, especially those who are coughing and sneezing whether they be coworkers, friends, or family.
Touching your mouth, nose, or eyes with your germy hands before you wash them this time of year is pretty much guaranteed to get you sick, what’s worse is you may do it without even being aware: on average an adult touches their face about 16 times an hour.
Bring your own mats to any yoga or exercise class, it is worth it, especially at this time of year. Mats are a prime place for germs, so be sure to wipe it off using antibacterials after each and every use.
Exercise can be important to boosting the immune system, but exercise equipment is typically pretty dirty. Viruses that cause the common cold have been found on 63% of gym equipment, be sure to protect yourself by wiping down equipment before using it.
If you are in an enclosed space such as a train, bus, or airplane and a person is sneezing and coughing use a surgical face mask. It is not being too cautious or overkill, especially if that person is near you.
In cold and flu season it is important to eat lots of green vegetables, get plenty of vitamin D, stay physically active, get enough sleep, avoid alcohol, manage stress, drink green tea, eat the rainbow of a colorful diet full of produce, and practice good hygiene to support the immune system.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.