We’re in a particularly strong flu season. And it turns out we are not very smart about avoiding spreading germs. Most Americans use six or more antimicrobial products every day. But buying more products is probably not the right answer.
The good news? If you are careful about it, it’s easy to stop the spread of germs and keep yourself and you family healthy. And it’s eco-friendly and wallet-friendly, since you won’t have to buy lots of new stuff.
It’s Not In Your Hands
Most common illnesses, including the common cold, are spread by the hands. And since the average kiddo touches his or her mouth and nose every three minutes, it’s a good idea to promote frequent handwashing. Antibacterial products like Purell can be a good substitute for washing. But, surprisingly, clean hands may not help much with the flu. One recent study found that cleaning your hands has almost no impact on flu transmission.
Washing your hands, one expert notes, is “a simple thing to do and it may protect you from some other illnesses,” but isn’t the key for the flu.
So, how does the flu virus spread? According to the CDC, mostly “via large-particle droplets” (ewww…) which “generally travel only a short distance (less than or equal to 1 meter) through the air.” So, some common-sense eco-friendly tips:
If you’re sick, don’t breathe or cough on others. If you’re not sick, do your best to keep from anyone breathing or coughing on you. And the virus can incubate for 1-4 days before you show symptoms, so when in doubt, be careful.
And last, stay home. Don’t bring the flu into your work or school. (And you can probably use the extra sleep!)
Strong Immune Systems
A compromised immune system can make you much more susceptible. But you don’t need to run off to buy lots of multivitamins and miracle pills – you can do this better with a few simple steps.
- Get enough sleep. Rather than watching one more episode, hit the sack early. It’s worth it if you can fend off the flu!
- Eat good food. Particularly vegetables.
- Get regular exercise.
- Stay hydrated. Fill and refill your favorite water bottle all day.
- Don’t smoke.
- Don’t stress. Give yourself a break – yes, recycled kleenex is better than virgin-forest tissues. But the most important thing is getting better if you’re sick!
The bottom line: don’t freak out and start sanitizing everything in sight, particularly if it’s the flu you’re trying to avoid. Instead, follow common sense. And if you’re right for it, get that flu shot! Learn more at flu.gov.