Avoid Catching the Flu

'Tis the season… for flu, that is. That’s why it is extremely important to follow these ten rules to ensure optimal health for you and your family.

Rule 1:  Avoid crowds.

Sometimes it is possible, sometimes it is not.  If I could feed my family without venturing to the grocery store, believe me, I would.  Likewise, if I didn’t need to fly on airplanes, I would cross them off my list also. But sometimes it just isn’t possible. When given the option, if you know the flu is circulating, avoid crowded places to lower the chance that you will come into contact with the virus responsible for making you sick.

Rule 2:  Wash your hands.

With cold and flu season upon us, a great habit to become obsessed with is hand washing.  Most viruses that cause colds and the flu are spread by direct contact.  That means someone sneezes into their hand and then touches something that you then come into contact with.  Maybe it’s a door, a phone, a computer keyboard, or the armchair rest, but that germ has settled on that spot and can live there for hours until the next person comes along and picks it up. 

Wash your hands often to avoid picking up and spreading germs, and if a sink isn’t available, carry hand sanitizer with you and use that.

Rule 3:  Use tissues (not hands) to catch sneezes and coughs.

Feel a sneeze or cough coming on?  Grab the tissue, fast!  If you don’t have a tissue, try to sneeze or cough into your sleeve rather than your bare hand.  Germs and viruses cling to bare skin and are then in a prime spot to pass along to others.  The best choice is to catch the sneeze or cough with a tissue and throw it away immediately, but second best is to catch it on your sleeve.  If you do catch it barehanded, then follow rule number 2!

Rule 4:  Don’t touch your face.

It is common for the cold or flu virus to enter the body through the eyes, nose, or mouth.  This is particularly true with kids, and it’s a key way they pass those germs along to others.

Rule 5:  Drink lots of fluids.

We have all heard it before, but it bears repeating.  Adults should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day.  It will also help keep your body healthy and hydrated.

Rule 6:  Get outdoors in the fresh air.

It is important to get out and get some fresh air.  In the winter, central heating dries you out, making your body more vulnerable to the cold and flu bugs.  It also makes you more vulnerable to germs when you stay in confined areas where more germs circulate.

Rule 7: Get regular exercise.

Exercise helps boost the body’s natural ability to fight viruses a couple of different ways. Aerobic exercise speeds the heart to pump more blood and makes you breathe faster to help transfer oxygen from your lungs to your blood. 

Rule 8:  Don’t smoke.

Research has demonstrated that smokers suffer from more severe and more frequent colds than non-smokers.  Smoking dries out the nasal passages and prevents the cilia, delicate hairs that line the mucous membranes in your nose and lungs, from sweeping cold and flu viruses out of the nasal passages.  Even exposed non-smokers are also affected.

Rule 9:  Eat a healthy diet.

Eating a balanced, healthy diet including foods rich in Vitamin C and Zinc will help keep your immune system strong and allow your body to fight viruses better.

Rule 10:  Cut alcohol consumption.

Alcohol dehydrates the body and heavy alcohol use damages the body’s liver, which is the body’s primary filtering system.  This means that germs leave the body more slowly. That leaves heavier drinkers more prone to initial infections.

You can’t cure the flu, but you can lessen your chance of catching it by following these tips.


Many of the symptoms of the common cold and the flu are the same, but there are a couple of key differences that can help you differentiate between the two:

Fever: While rare in a cold, a fever is usually at least 102 in the flu and can go as high as 104.

Extreme exhaustion or fatigueUsually of sudden onset, fatigue is common in the flu and can be quite severe. It is rare with a cold.

Headache: With the flu, headache is also common, can be very severe, and is also typically sudden in onset.  With a common cold headaches are rare.

General muscle aches and pains: This is much more typical with the flu, again sudden in onset.  It is rare to experience these aches and pains with a cold.

Runny, stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, and cough: Theseare all common in both a common cold and the flu.

You can’t cure the flu, but you can lessen your chance of catching it by following the ten tips. If you feel under the weather, help determine if it is a cold or the flu by checking your symptoms against the above list.

Copyright © Kathy Pride. Used by permission.

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