Flu and cold season is upon us and it’s important to do all you can to avoid those pesky germs that can make us ill. By practicing a few simple rules, you can also help to prevent the spread of flu and cold germs.
“The typical symptoms you see with the flu are sore throat, cough, congestion, body aches and fever. With the flu it tends to be, you’re out shopping and all of a sudden at the grocery store you realize you don’t feel well and within a couple hours you may be feeling pretty poorly with fever, chills or other symptoms,” said Dr. Joshua Long, a family practitioner at Novant Health Mountainview Medical in King. “We’re seeing flu on a daily basis in our clinic right now.”
Long said it’s important to try to be seen by a health provider early, if you think you have the flu.
“We’re encouraging folks, that if they think they have the flu, they let us know so that we can screen them and talk with them and if we think that’s what the cause is, we can treat them appropriately to avoid complications.”
Long also said he encourages people who think they have symptoms to do the best they can to try to avoid spreading the illness to others and to stay hydrated.
The following are some tips from Dr. Charles Bregier, Novant Health medical director of corporate health, for how to take care of your body and be a good citizen during the current cold and flu season:
Be your own sneeze guard – If you feel a sneeze or a cough coming on, leave the room if you can. At the very least, cover your mouth with a tissue or cough or sneeze into the fold of your arm. And don’t cough into your bare hand. That’s how germs get spread. Immediately put all used tissues in the trash. Handkerchiefs aren’t really an answer because after one use they’re contaminated. Carry a packet of tissues if you need them.
Go into picnic mode – If someone in your family is sick, consider putting away the good china and silverware and have them use disposable cups, plates and utensils. By tossing those items out, you cut the risk of spreading germs.
About those grocery cart wipes – Keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times and use it as much as possible. Use a household disinfectant or disinfectant wipes on surfaces that are frequently touched, such as door handles, cabinet knobs, refrigerator handles, railings and cell phones. At the grocery store, take advantage of the wipes they station by the shopping carts.
Don’t shake on it – If you’re sick, politely decline to shake hands and explain that you have a virus and want to avoid spreading germs. Wash your hands frequently in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Try hard not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth, as this is how germs are spread.
Keep your distance – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with the flu can spread it to others up to 6 feet away, so stay away from individuals who appear sick. If possible, avoid highly congested areas during flu season like movie theaters and malls.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle – It is important to keep your immune system working at its highest, so stay hydrated, eat well and get enough sleep. Get a flu shot every year.
Be a loner – If you are ill, sleep by yourself to avoid spreading germs to your loved one. Use a separate bathroom, if possible, and do not share bath towels. Have your own box of tissues and hand sanitizer.
For additional information about the flu, visit noflu.org.