Avoiding the Flu

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My office sounds like the TB ward at a hospital; coughing, sneezing, sniffling and more endless coughing. It’s that time of the year again, and according to the Center for Disease Control, the flu has reached epidemic proportions.

A flu shot makes you 62% less likely to catch this severe version of the seasonal bug, and this year’s vaccine is well matched to the most prevalent strain.
Even with the shot, stringent measures are necessary to protect yourself from the flu virus.

Wash you hands regularly. Use soap, warm water and rub your hands together for the time it takes you to sing happy birthday twice. Dry them well.

If you can’t wash your hands, a hand sanitizer like Purell is the next best thing.

Sneeze into your elbow, use a knuckle to press the elevator buttons, and use your elbow to turn off the faucet. The less you actually touch, the less germs you actually spread.

Avoid touching your face, and especially avoid rubbing your eyes. The eyes are not only the “gateway to your soul,” but also a key entry point for germs to get into your system.

Avoid overly crowded places. Being smashed into a subway car at rush hour nose to nose with hundreds of strangers is a sure fire way to spread germs. Holding onto the pole just takes it to the next level. If you can, walk to your destination instead. You will avoid the risk of infection, lower your stress level, and burn a few calories in the process.

If you must take crowded public transportation, be sure to sanitize your hands immediately.  The rest is just unavoidable.

Airplanes are another hotbed of germs. Take some disinfectant wipes along to wipe down your armrests and try tables. Drink water throughout the flight to stay hydrated and keep nasal passages moist.  I have heard people swear by smearing a little antibiotic ointment like Bacitracin on their noses to form a barrier for germs. Old wives tale, or good idea? You be the judge.

I skip the salad bar, especially this time of year. I realize this is one of my freakish germ phobic issues, but think about it. Everyone that goes through the line is touching the same utensils and breathing on the food. If every single person did not just wash their hands before approaching the salad bar (and you KNOW they didn’t) than it is one of the germiest spots around. Now take those hands that just shared tongs with the entire unwashed population of salad lovers and go eat with them. Yep, now you get the picture.

Unless you intend to wear a HAZMAT suit and mask, some exposure to the virus is unavoidable. Get plenty of sleep, eat healthfully and exercise. All of these are factors in building up your immune system.

If you do get the flu, drink lots of fluids, rest and please, stay away from the rest of us until you get better!

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