How to Take Care of Your Health in Cold or Flu Season
Sharing household items such as utensils, towels, bedding, and toothbrushes can spread infections. Make sure each family member has their own, and change and clean them regularly. Clean the germ hiding places on a regular basis. Focus on the places where germs love to live: doorknobs, light switches, faucets, toilet handles, drawer handles, fridge doors, remote controls, telephones and keyboards. Use soap and water or a regular household disinfectant to clean surfaces. To avoid spreading germs from one surface to another with your cleaning cloth, use a disposable cloth or a separate non-disposable cloth for each surface. By doing low-impact exercise such as a brisk walk stimulates the immune system and activates your body's defenses against infection.
Wash your hands frequently, and teach your kids to do the same. Hands carry germs, and one sick person can spread germs to your whole family by touching things around the house. Cold and flu viruses can live for up to 48 hours on household surfaces. Wash your hands before eating, touching your face, preparing food, or caring for a child after blowing your nose, using the washroom, caring for an animal or sick person, or handling garbage. Practice good cough and sneezing etiquette. Teach everyone in your family to cough or sneeze into a tissue, or if one is not available, into their sleeve. They should throw out used tissues right away and wash their hands after coughing, sneezing, or handling a used tissue. Research has shown that by doing low-impact exercise such as a brisk walk stimulates the immune system and activates your body's defenses against infection.
If you smoke, quit smoking as second-hand smoke can increase the risk of colds and make colds worse. If you are having trouble quitting, at least don't smoke in the house. The old tricks of opening windows, smoking in a different room, spraying air freshener, using an air purifier, or turning on a fan don't get rid of harmful second-hand smoke. Don't forget, children are often exposed to more germs than adults are. Teach them these guidelines, and help them avoid colds and flu.
Lastly, you want to know whether it's a cold or flu. Some symptoms of colds and flu are similar, and it can be hard to tell them apart. But here are a few things to watch for. Colds start slowly and are generally mild. Flu comes on fast and tends to be more severe. Identifying your illness can help you choose the best medication for relief.