Winter is upon us. Pretty snow, holiday festivities and kids on vacation are all great aspects of this season in Michigan. Colds, coughs, and snot … not so much! Yet, it is inevitable that doctors see an uptick in patients with these common maladies at this time of year, resulting in a $20 billion hit to productivity from sick days across the U.S.
When the temperature gets colder, we shut our doors and windows and create a warm, ideal environment for germs to grow and spread. This doesn’t mean we’re doomed, though, because there are simple measures we can all take to minimize the risk of getting sick.
Here is a handful to keep in mind:
Get the flu shot.
We started getting the reminder several months ago. The flu vaccine reduces the risk of getting sick by 50-60 percent and even if you do catch it, having the shot can lessen its severity.
Don’t touch things!
It’s hard to avoid contact with things like door knobs, pens, and other people’s hands; but, they’re all great vehicles for organisms to ride on as they make their way from one person to the next.
Use hand sanitizer.
This is a key preventative measure, and it’s pretty much everywhere these days. Studies have shown that people who use sanitizer can have 50 percent fewer infections than those who do not.
Cover your coughs and sneezes.
The germs from an “unblocked” cough can spread up to 3-6 feet – so cover them up and then, sanitize those hands. The organisms that do manage to land on a nearby object can survive there for several days. One particularly bad bug that you may have heard of, MRSA, can survive for months!
People who exercise even moderately during the winter months are one third less likely to come down with a cold.
Sleep well on these cold nights.
Fatigue lowers our ability to fight off an infection. One study shows that men who slept only four hours per night for a week produced 50 percent fewer antibodies, compared to those who got eight hours of shuteye. That’s a big difference!
So, bundle up and prepare yourself. Winter is a lot more fun around here when we aren’t laid up with some nasty (and preventable) infection.
Winter is a lot more fun around here when we aren’t laid up with some nasty (and preventable) infection.