The holiday season is an exciting time of year, but it’s also the height of cold and flu season. Many of the seasonal illnesses are passed from person to person through food or contact, which is why it is very important to try to protect yourself by practicing good hygiene. The best way to prevent the flu is to get your annual flu shot, but regular hand washing is key to stopping the spread of germs. Staying hydrated and taking multivitamins and vitamin C supplements daily can help your immune system fight off a potential illness.
When washing your hands, use lukewarm water and wash for at least 15-20 seconds—as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday.” Remember to wash your hands thoroughly throughout your travels after coughing or sneezing, visiting the restroom, shopping, or attending holiday parties. Hand sanitizer is also a great on-the-go method of keeping germs at bay when you’ll be interacting with a lot of people. Anytime you need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth completely within your elbow to help keep your hands germ-free. At parties, try to only use utensils to get food from a tray, platter, or bowl, and if you have to cook, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before preparing meals. If you have a cold and need to cook, wearing a face mask can help protect the food from your sickness.
Be in tune with your body, especially this time of year. If you are sick— especially if you have a high fever or other flu-like symptoms—please stay at home. The flu is contagious and you are very likely to pass it on to another person if you are around them for a long period of time. Flu symptoms tend to come on quickly and are usually more severe than cold symptoms, such as sudden onset of a sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches and soreness, congestion and/or a cough. If you are experiencing symptoms of the flu, schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor or go to urgent care as soon as possible. Cone Health has an exceptional network of primary care providers and urgent care facilities throughout the area. Visit conehealth.com to find a doctor or urgent care facility near you.
Janece Moore is a family nurse practitioner at Triad Internal Medicine Associates and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Winston-Salem State University in 2001. Janece also earned her master’s degree in nursing with a concentration in Family Nurse Practitioner from Winston-Salem State University in 2012. She holds an American Nurses Credentialing Center certification and is a member of the local chapter, Greensboro Nurse Practitioner Association.