December 1, 2008
The arrival of cold and flu season doesn't mean you have to start stocking up on tissues and over-the-counter remedies. You can take simple steps to help your body fight off the nasty "bugs" that will be flying around:
- Wash your hands frequently. Cold and flu germs are spread by touch, so be sure to wash your hands often or use an alcohol-based gel. Common culprits for transmitting germs include grocery carts, elevator buttons, escalator handrails and doorknobs. Watch a demonstration on how to wash your hands right!
- Eat a well-balanced diet, take a multi-vitamin and maintain a healthy weight.
- Drink lots of water. Keeping your body hydrated will help your immune system work faster.
- Exercise. It'll boost your body's immunity.
- Keep stress at bay. Adopt a positive attitude and seek treatement if you are depressed.
- Get enough sleep. Your body repairs itself during sleep.
- Keep any chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure under control and take your medications as prescribed.
- Don't abuse your body by smoking or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold or the flu.
- Stay current with immunizations, including an annual flu shot. Those 65 and older and people with chronic diseases should also get the pneumonia vaccine. Even adults need booster shots for other immunizations: ask your doctor.
"Washing your hands is probably the single most effective way to prevent a cold or the flu," says Susan Bidigare, M.D., a Beaumont family medicine physician in St. Clair Shores. "Be sure to wash them long enough to get them clean — at least 20 seconds, or the time it takes to sing the ABCs."