It is the time of year again when folks are overly stressed and pay more attention to preparing for the upcoming holidays rather than taking care of their health. A few simple things may help to prevent coming down with the dreaded cold or flu.
5 Simple Ways to Dodge a Cold or Flu
Ok I know, sounds simple…children learn this in preschool. But the fact remains is it one of the simplest and most proactive ways to avoid getting and spreading a cold or flu. Use soap, rub your hands together vigorously and “Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, Hum the Happy Birthday song from beginning to end twice” (CDC, 2015, para. 3). Do this and do it OFTEN!
Flu Vaccine/Pneumonia Vaccine
Here is what the Flu (influenza) vaccine does.
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. (CDC, 2016a, para. 2)
There are special considerations for those younger than 6 months and those with certain allergies.
The pneumonia vaccine is vitally important for certain age groups. There are 2 types of pneumonia vaccines. Here is what is recommended by the CDC (2016b),
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended for all babies and children younger than 2 years old, all adults 65 years or older, and people 2 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is recommended for all adults 65 years or older; people 2 through 64 years old who are at increased risk for disease due to certain medical conditions, and adults 19 through 64 years old who smoke cigarettes. (para. 2)
More water should be consumed in the winter then even the hotter times of the year. When we do not keep hydrated in the winter these things may occur; exhaustion, muscle fatigue, cramps, loss of coordination, and more susceptible to colds and flu.
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends 11-16 cups of fluids each day for adult men and women, with children and adolescents needing 9 -14 cups (Michigan State University Extension, 2014, para. 4).
Getting Enough Sleep
Getting run down and not getting enough sleep can happen easily during the busy holiday season. The National Sleep Foundation (2015) recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. And children and teens need even more (para. 10). Making sleep a priority is as important as the activities we make a priority while awake.
It can be the natural inclination in the cold winter months to hibernate like bears, but it is more important to keep moving. University of South Carolina researchers discovered that men who got in 2 hours a day of moderate activity (the equivalent of walking briskly, climbing stairs) were 35% less likely to catch a cold. And while the weather might be frightful, walking inside at a mall or indoor track will keep you healthier and won’t hurt in chasing away colds and the winter blues!
The key is taking care of you, follow these 5 steps and they may keep those nasty cold and flu illnesses from ruining your winter activities!
Centers for Disease Control (CDC). (2015). Handwashing: Clean hands save lives. Retrieved
Centered for Disease Control (CDC). (2016a). Facts about seasonal flu vaccines. Retrieved from
Centers for Disease Control (CDC). (2016b). Vaccines and preventable diseases. Retrieved from
Michigan State University Extension. (2014). Is your body staying hydrated this winter?
National Sleep Foundation. (2015). National sleep foundation recommends new sleep times.
Retrieved from https://sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-
Stacey Krout Minor, PhD(c), MSN, RN