By Leslie Roste
Regardless of whether the threat is a simple cold or the flu, there are several things you can do to protect yourself from unnecessary downtime.
Proper Hand Washing
This gets top billing because of its true effectiveness in preventing illness. The most important aspects of hand washing are the length of time (at least 30 seconds) and the amount of friction you use, not the water temperature. In fact, warm water is better than hot, as hot water dries the skin, leaving more microscopic openings on its surface. In cases where hand washing is not practical, keep hand sanitizer available. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can also contribute to drying of the skin, so be diligent about moisturizing.
Have you had all your shots? The most underimmunized group in America is women aged 30-55. Check with your physician to make sure you are up-to-date on everything from influenza to tetanus.
Fluids and More Fluids
Staying well hydrated clearly benefits our skin, the largest organ of our immune system. The advice to stay adequately hydrated is even more important in the cold, dry months of winter.
Eat Your Vitamins
A balanced diet, which includes all food groups, gives your immune system the resources it needs when it faces a challenge like the flu.
Eight Hours of Sleep
Research continues to prove how vital this is to every part of our well-being. It affects everything from our ability to resist illness to managing weight.
Hands and Face
It is important to keep your hands away from your face–particularly the eyes, mouth, and nose, which are favorite points of entry for viruses. Start paying attention to how frequently you touch your face. Break the habit, and you could reduce your risk of colds and flu this season by more than 50 percent.
Leslie Roste has degrees in nursing and microbiology and is employed by King Research in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.