Staying Well During Cold and Flu Season
With coworkers sniffling at the office and passengers coughing during your morning commute, you might think that getting sick during flu season is unavoidable. A recent survey from the American Osteopathic Association found that 42% of Americans believe they will get sick during cold and flu season, with the workplace (36%) and public transportation (24%) being the most likely places they expect to catch a bug.
While preventive measures won’t stop every illness, Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, advise patients that there are multiple ways to help ward off sickness. DOs are trained to listen and partner with you to help you not only get healthy, but stay well.
Rob Danoff, DO, an osteopathic family physician, offers the following tips for staying healthy during cold and flu season.
Get the flu shot.
The flu shot may not save your life, but it very well could save someone else’s. Dr. Danoff says children who receive the flu vaccine are far less likely to be hospitalized due to complications of the flu. The shot also helps protect those who cannot be vaccinated, as well as the elderly and those with preexisting conditions that make flu a greater threat.
Scrub your hands like a doctor.
The typical “wringing and rubbing” technique misses a myriad of germs, often leaving the insides of fingers unclean. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands and under the finger nails.
Eat your veggies and go to bed.
Better nutrition directly translates into better resilience and fewer illnesses, Dr. Danoff says. Add seven to nine hours of daily sleep and your body is primed to battle the pathogens that proliferate when people spend more time indoors.
Take sunshine walks.
Decreased levels of vitamin D can weaken your immune system. Take a morning or afternoon walk to soak up the sparse rays during the winter months to boost both your mood and your immunity.
Adding exercise on top of a daily sunshine walk makes your immune system function more effectively. A bit of indoor cardio or strength training conditions your body to fight off illness—including the winter doldrums.
People have a tendency to “socially hibernate” during winter. Humans are social beings and positive interactions help ward off loneliness and depression, which can compromise the immune system.