Americans have never been known as fatalists. We generally have a sunny, optimistic outlook. But when it comes to cold and flu season, many of us sound downright Russian in our outlook.
According to a survey done for the American Osteopathic Association, 42 percent of Americans believe getting sick during cold and flu season is inevitable.
We believe we’ll get sick in the the home (from family or roommates) (18%), gyms (4%), bars or restaurants (3%), and places of worship (3%).
While getting a cold or flu may be extremely likely during this season, it is not necessarily inevitable. Osteopathic physicians are offering the following advice for prevention:
- Get a flu shot and make sure your family is vaccinated.
The flu shot may not save your life, but it very well could save someone else’s, according to Dr. Danoff, who adds that children who receive the flu vaccine are far less likely to be hospitalized by the flu. The shot also helps protect those who cannot be vaccinated, as well as the elderly and those with preexisting conditions that make flu a greater threat.
2. Upgrade your hand washing technique.
Scrub like a doctor and you’ll avoid myriad germs that the typical “wringing and rubbing” technique misses. Researchers who looked at people’s freshly washed hands found that the insides of the fingers often aren’t clean, Danoff noted, giving the hundreds of viruses that cause colds a safe hiding place. Also remember to scrub the backs of your hands and under the finger nails.
3. Eat your veggies and go to bed.
Get your vitamins from food, not a pill, and you’ll reap countless protective health benefits. Better nutrition directly translates to better resilience and fewer illnesses, according to Dr. Danoff. Add 7-9 hours of daily sleep and your body is primed to battle the pathogens that proliferate when people spend more time indoors.
4. Get outside when the sun shines.
Decreased levels of vitamin D can weaken your immune system. Take a morning or afternoon walk to soak up the sparse rays during the winter months and you’ll boost both your mood and your immunity.
5. Keep moving.
Adding exercise on top of a daily sunshine walk makes your immune system function more effectively. A bit of indoor cardio or strength training conditions your body to fight off illness—including the winter doldrums. Drink enough water to meet your hydration needs, which don’t drop along with the temperature.
6. Stay social.
People have a tendency to “socially hibernate” during winter. Humans are social beings and positive interactions with friends improves mood and wards off depression, which can compromise the immune system.
Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) focus on prevention by gaining a deeper understanding of your lifestyle and environment, rather than just treating your symptoms. To learn more, visit www.DoctorsThatDO.org.
There you have it: get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids and go see your friends.