'Tis the Season
Hands-on approach to staying healthy
Here in Minnesota, snow flurries and flu season go hand in hand, but there are several ways you can help protect yourself and your family from getting sick and spreading germs to others:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
- Get a flu shot
- Keep your distance from people who are sick
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Stay home from work or school if you're sick
- Eat healthy, stay active and get enough sleep
Ten finger defense
Throughout the day, our hands collect germs from hundreds of sources-people, foods, doorknobs, coins-so it's easy to unknowingly infect ourselves and others. According to Linda Van Etta, MD, St. Luke's Infectious Disease Associates, one of the simplest, most effective ways to lower your risk of getting sick is to wash your hands frequently, following these four steps:
- Wet hands with warm running water and apply liquid soap
- Rub hands vigorously for 10 seconds (the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday")
- Rinse well
- Dry hands with a warm air hand dryer, clean cloth or disposable towel
Also recommended are alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 70 percent ethyl alcohol, found at most grocery stores and drugstores and easily packed in a purse, backpack or glove compartment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual influenza (flu) vaccination for everyone age 6 months and older, especially preschoolers, pregnant women, older adults and people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. In a recently published report by the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, studies showed that the vaccine protected patients 59 percent of the time, with even higher protective rates in younger people. Based on these findings, Dr. Van Etta encourages people of all ages to continue to get an annual flu shot.
To schedule a flu shot or nasal spray flu vaccine, call your doctor or client. You can read more about flu prevention at www.slhduluth.com/Health-Education/Flu.aspx.