December should be a month filled with fun and festivities, not the flu! Follow these tips to keep colds and the flu away this holiday season.
- Get a flu shot. It’s not too late! Everyone over six months old should be vaccinated. The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. The virus inside the vaccine has been inactivated (killed). Most side effects are very mild. Flu shots are considered preventative care and therefore covered by most insurance plans. Children under five and the elderly are at a higher risk for complications from the flu. If you’re pregnant, the vaccine will also offer immunity to your child several months after birth.
- Wash your hands regularly. It’s not necessary to use warm water; cold water is just as effective. Scrub your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, and be sure to lather your nails, the backs of your hands, and between your fingers. It’s also important to dry your hands because germs cling to wet skin more easily.
- Use hand sanitizer. It can be as effective as hand washing if used correctly. Be sure to use at least a dime-sized amount; your hands should still feel wet ten seconds after application. Choose a formula with at least 60 percent alcohol - anything less isn’t effective and may actually encourage bacterial growth. Hand sanitizer is not effective on visibly dirty hands-use soap and water instead.
- Avoid touching your face. Germs most readily enter your body through your mouth, nose, and eyes. On average, adults touch their face 15 times an hour.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home, especially if a family member has been sick. Remote controls, light switches, door knobs, and faucets are a good starting point. Any cleaning agent that contains alcohol will kill germs - even alcohol-based hand wipes will do the trick. Flu viruses can live on surfaces up to eight hours.
- If possible, avoid frequently touched public surfaces. Use a paper towel to open the restroom door, carry your own pen, and use a napkin to cover utensils at the buffet line. When touching a surface is unavoidable, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer afterwards (ATM PIN pads, door handles, hand rails, etc.).
- Get enough sleep. One study found that “people who sleep only five to six hours a night have a 30% chance of catching a cold when exposed to the virus; those who get more than seven hours reduce their risk to 17%”.
If you do get sick this winter, Integrity Urgent Care is here to help! We strive to provide the best urgent care available to Bryan/College Station residents and are open daily from 8 am to 8 pm. No appointment is needed! Contact us today if you have any questions!
Sources: parents.com (Numerous Articles), https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2015/08/131411/short-sleepers-are-four-times-more-likely-catch-cold, cdc.gov- “Hand Washing Tips”, prevention.com “Cold and Flu Prevention Strategies”