Eight Practical Ways to Protect Yourself from Colds and Flu

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For those living in the northern hemisphere, the fall or autumn months bring cooler temperatures, and greater susceptibility to colds and influenza or ‘flu.

The last five years have seen deeper understandings of the nature and cycles of viruses underlying flu and cold symptoms. It is now recognized that a virus can actively live on a surface for as long as 48 hours and carries the potential to infect as long as it remains alive and active.

Most viruses are passed along from person to person through the transference of body fluids.

While it is virtually impossible not to come in contact with a virus, it is far more possible to avoid the effects of a virus and consequently catching a cold or flu.

The suggestions below can help to avoid the effects of virus contact:

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  1. Avoid touching your face. If you come into contact with a virus – someone with a cold or flu touches you and transfers body fluids on to you – but then you touch your own face, that virus could invade your system and infect you by entering your mouth, nose, ears, or eyes. Cover your hands with a tissue or a clean cloth or an unused handkerchief before touching your face.
  2. Don’t kiss and cuddle when you are contagious. Viruses can be contagious for up to 8 days after an initial infection. Lovemaking and physical affection during a cold or flu period is a gateway to infection. Learn the value of long-distant romance during this time. Yes, hold hands, but keep those hands away from your face.
  3. Be aware of high transfer areas. Any high volume traffic areas are high virus transfer areas. Avoid direct hand contact with public door handles. When entering a store push the door open on either side of the well-used steel or brass section of the door. If you must turn a door handle, especially in a public washroom, use a tissue or a paper towel to avoid direct contact with the handle.
  4. Clean well-used door handles and surfaces with an antibacterial cleanser. A vinegar-water solution or rubbing alcohol are reliable and effective ways to keep commonly used areas of your house or business clean, and to help prevent the spread of viruses.
  5. Store cashiers or bank tellers who handle cash are high transfer areas. Bank notes and coins are efficient vehicles for virus transfer. It is not always practical to wear gloves whenever you deal in cash, but carrying and using a small liquid hand sanitizer is a sensible practical option after contact. Carry one in your pocket or in your purse and consider applying it to your hands especially when leaving any high virus transfer area.
  6. Wash your hands frequently – always before and during the preparation of meals and after bathroom visits. Avoid touching surfaces in public washrooms. If you have to touch a surface use a hand towel or tissue, and clean your hands with soap and water or your personal hand sanitizer. Don’t forget to open the public bathroom door with your hand towel, tissue, or handkerchief.
  7. Protect others from your virus. Viruses become air born and have a high potential of transference when sneezing. If you have time and the means, sneeze into a tissue or handkerchief. If the sneeze is quicker than your ability to reach for a tissue, sneeze into the crook of your arm.
  8. Avoid going to work or to school or mixing with groups of people if you are a carrier of flu or cold symptoms. Incubate yourself. For anyone who is not paid for work-time lost this may not be a realistic or practical option. If you are in physical contact with the public and carry the risk of transferring your virus, wear plastic or rubber gloves, or sanitize your hands constantly. Become invested in containing your virus. Avoid sending your kids to school when they are carry a virus. This is taking care of your community. Be conscious of those high transference moments when your virus can be spread.

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While natural remedies and over-the counter pharmaceutical relievers of cold symptoms abound, the most reliable and traditional means of treating colds and flu is rest, fluids, and patience.

If you cannot fully rest, then cut down on your activities as much as possible. Give responsibilities to others you can trust to fulfill them for you.

Drink-drink-drink fluids! If you not a frequent visitor to the bathroom during your cold or flu time, you are probably not drinking sufficient fluids.

Know that cold and flu recovery takes time. Flu symptoms can last ten days or more, and symptoms can persist a full three or four weeks beyond that time. You might not feel at your best for up to a month after contracting the virus.

Rather than be impatient with yourself for your lack of energy and efficiency, understand recovery from a virus takes time.

Support your recovery. Give yourself slack and hold yourself back.

If you need help, support, or advice for your recovery, don’t hold back from consulting with your doctor or health-care provider.

Be aware, but not obsessive. Being on virus alert can easily take over your whole day. These suggestions hopefully encourage you to become conscious of your daily physical interactions. This is self-care and self-awareness in action.

Obsession is a state of anxiety, and not a state of self-awareness. If you get sick, don’t beat yourself up or obsessively wonder where you contracted the virus. As much as you can, enter willingly into this next opportunity for self-care – then rest and relax.

Do you have any cold or flu hints, advice, or experiences? What has worked for you? Please pass them on to us so we can all benefit. Write a comment below.

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One thought on “Eight Practical Ways to Protect Yourself from Colds and Flu

  1. Petro,
    I just wanted to share that I got that bad headcold going around and what really hepled me was steam. I boiled water and put a towel on my head 8 times a day and it helped to break up the mucus. I also drank a half cup hot water with half a lemon three times a day to help break up the mucus. Of course the rest of the time I made fresh ginger,lemon, and honey tea to drink. Before I did this I was not sleeping and coughing all the time. I believe it helped me recover faster.

    Pamella

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