The start of each year is often marked by the peak of cold and flu season. This year is no different, except for the addition of the coronavirus (COVID-19), along with the widespread media attention this public health issue is causing. It is understandable that many are feeling overwhelmed and concerned about how to best care for themselves and their loved ones. Take comfort in knowing that there are some simple steps you can take every day to protect your health:
- Scrub a dub! Wash your hands. As simple as this sounds, it truly is the most effective way to stop the spread of germs. Be sure to use soap, and to make sure you are being thorough enough, sing the “Happy Birthday” song while you wash. It’s just the right length to ensure a good cleaning of your hands. Also wash all parts of your hands, including the “webs” between your fingers and thumbs.
- When without, use a squeeze! If you are unable to get to a sink with soap and water to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer. While handwashing is best, hand sanitizer helps to reduce the spread of germs when you are out and about. Have hand sanitizer in several locations so you always have some available. Think about placing some bottles in your car, your purse, your suitcase, the diaper bag, or even in your coat pocket.
- Don’t rub, don’t touch! As tempting as it is to rub those scratchy eyes during allergy season or to rub a runny nose, don’t. In fact, if you can, try to avoid touching your face as much as possible, especially with unclean hands. Our eyes, nose, and mouth are easy access points for germs to enter our bodies.
- When in doubt, don’t go out! If you are feeling under the weather, stay home. If your child is feeling sick, keep them home. It is so important to not only rest when you are starting to get sick or are already under the weather, but also to stay home and avoid spreading it to others.
- Don’t spray it! Sneezing this time of year is part of life, especially if you have allergies or the cold or flu. To help minimize the spread of germs from sneezing or coughing, use a Kleenex or your elbow. This also helps keep your hands clean.
And remember, many people have a runny nose, cough, or are sneezing during flu and allergy season. If you feel sick, please contact your primary care provider to determine the best course of treatment for you. He or she may recommend treating it at home or making an appointment to be seen. To find a PCP near you, please visit www.dignityhealth.org. For more information on cold, flu, and coronavirus prevention, check out the CDC guide on healthy habits to help prevent flu.