The cold and flu season is upon us.
This year’s strain of flu has been particularly harmful, with the Guardian reporting that is has affected fewer people than in recent years and yet resulted in more deaths and admissions to intensive care. Even the NHS is struggling under the pressure with many staff members turning to personal loans to fund their emergency expenses as highlighted in our credit market analysis.
So how do you stay protected from nasty cold and flu germs?
Today we offer up five top tips on how to survive cold and flu season without having to reach for the hankies or Lemsip.
#1 Wash your hands regularly to prevent cold and flu
In a WebMD.com article on how doctors themselves keep cold and flu germs at bay, their top tip is simply washing your hands.
Doctors are all in agreement. Washing your hands regularly during the day will help prevent infections and the spread of germs.
But are you washing your hands properly?
How to wash your hands properly to stop flu germs spreading
Ensure that you are washing your hands properly to avoid the dreaded flu by following these tips from the World Health Organisation.
It says that washing your hands should take about as long as singing “Happy Birthday” twice (around 20 seconds).
You should be washing after using the toilet, handling raw meat and coming into contact with pets. Also, wash your hands before eating.
Use the following steps, shared on the NHS website, while you hum Happy Birthday:
- Wet your hands with water (warm or cold).
- Apply enough soap to cover all over your hands. You can use alcohol-based hand rub if you don’t have immediate access to soap and water.
- Rub hands palm to palm.
- Rub the back of your left hand with your right palm with interlaced fingers. Repeat with the other hand.
- Rub your palms together with fingers interlaced.
- Rub the backs of your fingers against your palms with fingers interlocked.
- Clasp your left thumb with your right hand and rub in rotation. Repeat with your left hand and right thumb.
- Rub the tips of your fingers in the other palm in a circular motion, going backwards and forwards. Repeat with the other hand.
- Rinse hands with water (warm or cold).
- Dry thoroughly, ideally with a disposable towel.
- Use the disposable towel to turn off the tap.
#2 Get a flu jab
A flu vaccine isn’t usually necessary if you are fit and healthy as the NHS advises that if you catch the flu, it should usually clear up within a week or so.
If, however, you fall into one of the categories below then the flu could lead to dangerous complications, such as pneumonia, which is a life-threatening lung infection.
Speak to your GP if the below applies to you and you’ve not yet had your jab.
Do you need a flu jab?
The NHS recommends you get a flu jab:
- anyone aged 65 and over
- pregnant women
- children and adults with an underlying health condition (such as long-term heart or respiratory disease)
- children and adults with weakened immune systems
#3 Keep your distance from anyone showing signs of the cold or flu
This could be tricky but ideally, try and stay at least three feet away from anyone showing visible signs of the cold or flu, such as coughing or sneezing.
The flu virus is a parasite that lives in respiratory secretions that travel through the air in small droplets. When projected by a cough or sneeze, they can fly about three feet.
Since you can’t be sure if the person is suffering from cold or flu, play it safe and keep your distance.
#4 Keep surfaces clean to prevent cold and flu
Giving communal surfaces a regular wipe with household cleaner can be helpful in the fight against cold and flu germs.
The flu virus can remain viable without a host for about 24 hours so aim to wipe down surfaces, like phone chargers, fridge handles and light switches once a day – even if nobody in your house is showing signs of illness.
There are still lots of ways for the germs to spread but this will help reduce the risk a little.
#5 Keep your hands away from your face
Touching a contaminated surface won’t give you the cold or flu, but you’ll risk getting ill if you touch an infected surface and transfer the virus to the mucosal membrane in your nose or mouth.
Keep your hands away from your face and especially your nose and mouth.