‘Tis the season to cough, blow your nose, or lose your food. (This is a little less crude than saying vomit, puke, or barf.) The very thought of the flu season, and all those germs floating through the air, sends many people running to the sink to wash their hands multiple times per day, or to the bottle of hand sanitizer. Clinics and doctors office fill up with people waiting for their flu shot. Before jumping into the mainstream and mania of prevention, consider some of these facts.
Repetitive Hand Washing – Keeping your hands clean will help to wash away germs, but washing your hands with harsh, chemical laden soaps can cause cracking of the skin, particularly if you already have dry skin. Our skin acts as a barrier of protection for our body. These cracks and cuts allow entry of infectious bacteria to the bloodstream.
Follow hand washing with a good, high quality lotion. Avoid any product that contains sodium laurel sulphate, parabens, BHT, mineral oil, paraffin, petrolatum, phenol carbolic acid, propylene glycol, arcylamide, dioxane, or toluene. All of these are toxic substances. Basically, if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t apply it to your skin. Use products that are organic and contain animal fat.
Hand Sanitizers – A study that was conducted in our own East Tennessee State University lab yielded results that if the hand sanitizer didn’t contain at least 60%-90% alcohol, it wasn’t effective at killing germs. Check the label for content, even on the brand name sanitizers. Once again, alcohol is drying to the skin, so keep the lotion handy.
Flu Shots – are not for everyone! Before you line up at the nearest clinic to get injected, check with your doctor. Some of the risks of getting the flu shot outweigh getting the flu, for someone with autoimmune disease, or other medical history, so don’t assume that you need it. Others of you are putting yourself at risk if you don’t get the shot, so please be diligent about checking with your doctor first.
Stay Home – Doesn’t it just drive you crazy when a co-worker comes to work sick? While they may feel they are being noble and dedicated, they are putting all of those around them at risk for getting sick, too. Stay at home when you are sick! This goes double for your children. Keep them at home and let them get well before you spread their germs to all the other little people in their classroom.
Take Your Vitamins – Eating all those fruits and veggies is important year round, but particularly during flu season. You want to keep your vitamins coming into your body in pure form. The problem is that we are all too busy to eat as healthy as we should. Supplement your diet with a good multi-vitamin. Stock up on Vitamin C for the winter.
Sleep – Restful sleep restores your body. When we are run down, we are more susceptible to getting sick. It gets dark earlier in the winter, so go to bed earlier and let that good sleep work for you.
You might wonder why I didn’t mention exercise. Do I have to remind you to brush your teeth? Exercise is a given. A regular exerciser significantly decreases their risk for getting sick. However, if you go to the gym be extra careful to use the disinfectant on the machines before you use them, and keep your hands away from your mouth and nose.
Here’s wishing you a healthy and disease free winter.