From the Blog

8 Tips to Prevent Winter Colds and Flu

With the holidays come and gone, it’s safe to say winter is definitely here! The days are shorter, the air is colder, and for many of us, we’re stuck inside most of the time. On top of that, it’s cold and flu season.

No one wants to sniffle and sneeze their way through the wintertime. At Logansport Memorial Hospital, we want to help you stay well this season so we’re providing some of our best tips and tricks to keep you from getting sick this winter.

  1. Wash your hands well and often

Washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to prevent the common cold and flu this winter season. Wash your hands for twenty seconds, paying extra attention areas that tend to harbor more germs like your fingernails and the spaces between your fingers. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.

  1. Avoid touching your face

Did you know that most viral infections enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth? Germs can spread when you touch something that is contaminated and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, at least make sure you wash your hands or use sanitizer.

  1. Get your flu shot

One of the best things you can do to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. The flu season typically begins in October and occurs through late March. The flu vaccine offers protection for about 6-8 months which is why it is important to get one every year. The CDC recommends that people ages 6 months and older get their flu vaccine by the end of October to maximize effectiveness. However, the vaccine will still be beneficial if you wait until later in the year.

  1. Make sleep a priority

Those 7-8 hours of sleep are more important than you might think. While we’re sleeping, our immune systems are producing substances to help us fight off germs. Getting less sleep than we need may lower our body’s natural defenses against infections. Need help getting more sleep? Check out these tips and tricks: 

  1. Be active

Daily movement and exercise are beneficial for all areas of life, from reducing stress and anxiety to boosting your immune system. Exercise aids in the circulation of our blood which also keeps infection-fighting white blood cells in a healthy flow. This season, make an effort to incorporate more movement that you enjoy into your routine. Try a hot yoga class, hit the gym, or bundle up and go for a walk outside. Take it a step further and call a friend to catch up while you walk!

  1. Keep surfaces clean

It’s important to keep surfaces clean to prevent the spread of germs. Use disinfectant wipes to reduce germs to keep you and others healthy. Pay extra attention to areas that are used frequently, such as working and eating areas, doorknobs, and light switches.

  1. Nutrition

Our diet can play a big role in keeping us happy and healthy. Fruits and vegetables give us the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants we need to stay healthy. Be sure to eat regular meals so that your body is well-fueled. If a healthy diet is something you’re struggling with, focus on adding healthier options rather than subtracting food with less nutritional value. For example, pair that cheeseburger you’re craving with a side of broccoli instead of the fries. Start small, and your body will thank you for it in the long run! Remember to drink plenty of fluids, preferably water, to stay hydrated and to flush any toxins from your system.

  1. Reduce stress

Stress is a part of daily life. A little stress may even be good for us by strengthening our resilience and motivating us to accomplish tasks. But if stress is taking its toll, you may be at greater risk for infection. Stress triggers our body to produce more hormones like cortisol, and it can cause inflammation, both of which weaken the immune system and lead to poor health outcomes. Reducing stress doesn’t have to mean taking an hour out of your day to meditate, although that is one strategy to try. If you only have a few moments, practice taking deeper breaths and releasing any tension you may be holding in your jaw, shoulders, or other areas. Make time for things you enjoy, whether its knitting or streaming your comfort show.

Though these tips aren’t totally foolproof in preventing illness, if you do happen to come down with something this season you may not feel so bad and you may bounce back much quicker!

TOPICS: Family medicine, Health