Today’s post is brought to you by the woman at the library today who was coughing all over everything in sight–her hands, the books, the tables, the entire periodicals section (including the current edition of Cooking Light magazine), and my unattended (thank goodness!) computer bag.
With the collision of holiday socializing and the cold and flu seasons, I thought we might all benefit from a review of some of the simple steps we can take to prevent the spread of these illnesses.
Cough into your sleeve. Most of us were taught to cover our mouths/noses with our hands when we coughed, but that just puts nasty germs on our hands…and then everything we touch. Don’t believe me? Maybe you’ll believe these guys:
Wash your hands. A lot. This will get rid of germs left lying around by people who haven’t seen the parrots. Or people like the library lady who don’t bother using hands or sleeves.
Clean shared surfaces frequently. Think: telephones, keyboards, door knobs, stair rails, etc. This will help break the hand-to-hand spreading connection.
Keep your hands away from your face. Most cold and flu germs enter the body through the eyes, nose, and mouth. And given that Some People can’t be trusted to cough into their sleeves or wash their hands and then go around touching everything…well, just keep your hands away from your face as much as possible.
Get plenty of rest. When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies’ defense systems can’t do their search and destroy thing.
Get plenty of aerobic exercise. When you’re not resting, that is. Aerobic exercise gets the heart going and speeds up our breathing, which supplies our bodies with extra oxygen that feeds the natural virus-killing cells.
Eat real food. Healthy, whole (or mostly whole) foods provide a more complete nutritional arsenal to fight off illness. I don’t think supplements are the handtool of Satan, exactly, but relying on them is going to leave out a few vitamins and minerals your body needs to defend itself.
Drink plenty of liquids. Hydration is important year-round, but be wary of consuming too many alcohol and sugar-based beverages as they just get in the immune system’s way and muck things up. Herbal teas, on the other hand, may help fight off viral/bacterial growth. Look for those containing Echinacea and/or licorice root.
Consider getting a flu shot. The CDC recommends that almost everyone get a flu vaccine each year. Others argue, however, that the chemical components and general effectiveness of the vaccine indicate that it’s an unnecessary and potentially harmful endeavor. It’s up to the individual to decide. I opt to get a flu shot because a) I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time with old people, and b) lacking health insurance, I really, really can’t afford to develop a serious respiratory illness. Your mileage may vary.
At the risk of jinxing myself, I’ll express my gratitude that I don’t get sick very often. I seem to catch a cold every year or so, and I’ve only had the real flu once. I hope to keep it that way, so you can bet your bottom dollar that I am vigorously executing the defensive maneuvers discussed above!
As always, I need to point out that I am not a doctor. I just play one on the internet. Not one word of this post should be taken as medical advice.
With that, I’m off for a healthy lunch, followed by some exercise, followed by rest.