With the holiday season and winter upon us we are exposed to holiday cheer and, unfortunately, a variety of germs. Colds and flu as well as other ailments tend to get passed around as we are indoors with a variety of people and exposed to many public places. The stress of getting ready for the holidays can lower our immune systems.
So what can you do to protect yourself and your family this winter season?
There are several preventative measures you can take to protect yourself and others. First, the CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age or older. This vaccine covers the most common strains of influenza but it cannot protect you from the common cold or other possible strains of flu. Therefore other measures should be incorporated into your life. Everyday measures include hand washing, avoiding contact with sick people, and staying home from work or social events if not feeling well yourself. Also avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way. You should also always cough or sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue. In your home or workplace frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected often.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help improve your immunity. Drinking plenty of fluid and eating nutritious food helps balance your system. It is difficult in the season of cookies and pie to do that but adding fresh fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks can offset that not so healthy food that we love. Adding a walk or other physical activity can make you feel more energetic and help lower stress.
Stress is a common factor during the holiday season and can lower our immune system. Take some time to de-stress. Watch a movie or listen to music that represents your holiday traditions. Scheduling a little time for yourself can make a huge difference. Simply getting plenty of sleep can lower your stress levels.
Many people find it difficult to tell the difference between a cold and the flu. Cold symptoms usually include stuffy or runny nose, sore throat and sneezing. Flu symptoms tend to come on rapidly and include fever, chills, cough, headache and moderate to severe body aches and tiredness. Many people stay home and treat themselves if their symptoms are mild but if your symptoms are uncomfortable or severe it is recommended that people see their doctor. There are some medications that can ease symptoms. The CDC recommends that you or your child stay home at least 24 hours after a fever is gone except to get medical care. The fever should be gone without the use of medication that would reduce it. You may find more information about the flu and its prevention at www.cdc.gov.flu.about.season.
So as you work on completing that mile long to-do list remember to bundle up and drive safely as you make your way through the holidays and the winter months. Hope everyone has a happy and healthy holiday season.
This column solely reflects the writer's opinion.