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Cold and Flu Prevention

Updated on August 18, 2014

Tips for Avoiding Cold and Flu Germs

Note: The flu season is typically predicted to remain at its worst through February of each following year. It's wise to take extra precautions to protect yourself and those around you.

With no cure for the common cold or the flu, prevention - at least an earnest attempt - is the next best thing. We're all aware that hand washing is the best prevention for eliminating the transmission of germs. But, it is not always possible to wash hands every time you touch something that has already been infected. It's almost impossible to keep hands away from our faces, too, and that is bound to cause problems, especially during cold and flu season. Those germs are just determined to give us a cold or a bout of flu if we're not careful.

You'll find a few handy tips to reduce the risks when you're around all those pesky germs that can make us sick.

Wipes & Gels for Germ Prevention/Reduction

Our first line of defense when out in public is the handy dandy little alcohol wipe. The other types seem to leave a sticky residue on the fingers. Alcohol evaporates quickly and a box of them is inexpensive. They can dry out skin, but they also have a host of other uses including first aid and diabetic or other health-related needs.

You can – and should – use alcohol wipes to clean the handle on shopping carts. Wipe your own fingers as soon as you leave the store and before you touch car door handles or the steering wheel.

Bottles of anti-bacterial gels are another line of defense. While some experts state that they can build up an immunity to germs, these pocket-sized containers are also more convenient than wipes. Stock up and keep them in handbags, pockets, and in vehicles.

While you don’t want to seem overly phobic about germs, it’s easy to use these products discreetly.

Avoid Surface Germs with These Common-Sense Tips

General Areas:

You can devise ways to avoid touching some door handles. Back out of a restroom or front door or use the heel of your hand. You are less likely to touch your face with the heel as opposed to the fingers.

If you reach for a door handle, use an index finger and crook it around the top portion – or far left or right - of the bar or handle. The majority of people grasp the middle section and that’s where the most germs will reside. Don’t forget the freezer section doors in the grocery aisles, either.

At the Checkout Line:

If you’re paying with cash, try to use exact change whenever possible. That eliminates any money with someone else’s germs landing in your hands and then hanging around in purses and pockets.

If you are writing a check, use your own pen. The one sitting on the counter or handed over by a clerk will be another germ-carrier.

If you are using a credit or debit card, after swiping the card through the machine, it’s impossible to avoid using the stylus, especially for a signature. It’s loaded with germs, though, so be ready to wipe fingers afterward.

At the Gas Station

Now, let’s move on to the pump handles at a gas station. Think about how many people have already filled up gas tanks. Carry a spare pair of gloves and put them on before pumping gas – you’ll avoid a whole mess of germs here.

These precautions may not prevent you from catching a bug, but making them a habit will certainly decrease the chances of spending a few miserable days in bed.

Boost the Immune System with Foods

A recent study suggests that Vitamin C does not help prevent or reduce cold symptoms. This long-held belief is debunked with new research. There are other ways to build up the immune system that, along with ordinary precautions, may be just as effective.

However, immune-boosting foods could potentially aid in cold and flu prevention - without the potential risks posed by man-made or herbal products. Research also suggests these immune-boosting foods can also help prevent a host of other ailments.

Plan ahead for Cold and Flu Season

Arm your family ahead of time for winter illnesses

What keeps your system ticking through the winter? - Share your tips for avoiding germs

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