The winter brings with it brisk temperatures, plenty of time indoors, and an increased risk of illness. But is getting sick in winter inevitable? While winter illness is common, there are certainly steps you can take to be proactive in keeping it at bay.
- The common cold can be caused by any of more than 200 viruses. With all those opportunities, no wonder most people find themselves sniffling at this time of year! The best way to avoid those nasty bugs? Wash your hands! Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, and avoiding contact with infected people will help you fight off a cold. If you do get infected, the best things to do are exactly what your mom always said: get some rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat some chicken soup, and keep washing your hands.
- The CDC recommends that people older than six months get a flu shot, but is that the best way to avoid the flu? There are different schools of thought on this, and even the most hardcore flu shot advocates admit that the shot doesn’t cover all strains of the flu each year. As with a cold, the influenza can be avoided by hand washing and avoiding contact with those infected, but it also helps to frequently disinfect things like keyboards, telephones, doorknobs, and remote controls. If you do get the flu, baby yourself as much as you can in the beginning, and don’t treat the fever with medication if you can help it- there’s some evidence that a fever helps “burn off” the illness, because higher temperatures give white blood cells an advantage.
- Norovirus is commonly known as the stomach flu, and it reaches its peak in winter. It’s very contagious, so again, hand washing and avoidance are the best preventative measures.
- RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, is an extremely common upper respiratory illness. It’s like a cold, but affects the lungs and breathing passages, and can be very serious in little children. Babies should definitely be kept away from people with cold-like symptoms, and again, hand washing is extremely important.
- Does it surprise you to learn that foodborne illness increases in winter? It may be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen during the holidays! The best way to avoid these nasty illnesses, like salmonella? Avoid cross contamination, from sharing cutting boards or wash water between produce and animal products. And remember the old food safety adage: if in doubt, throw it out!
It’s pretty obvious that the best way to keep well this winter is to wash your hands and stay away from sick people. It’s also wise to take care of yourself, even during this busy time of year, by eating healthy foods, taking immune system boosting supplements, and getting plenty of rest. At our clinic, we work with our patients to help them live their healthiest lives, free from illness and pain. Call today for your free consultation, and see what we can do for you!