We all know that the weather is changing, and although the sun has been out recently, the cold and flu symptoms are starting. Here are a couple of tips for trying to stay well this semester:
1. Wash your hands.
I know this is very cliché, but hand washing is so important. It is the best way to prevent getting sick. You touch dirty surfaces all day – desks, equipment at the gym, and door handles. By washing your hands frequently, you can destroy and remove some of the viruses on your hands and keep from getting sick. Mini hand sanitizer bottles are easy to carry around and are good when washing your hands with soap and water is not possible.
2. Try not to touch your face.
If you have touched anything in a public place or pretty much anywhere on campus, you probably have germs on your hands. By touching your nose, mouth, or eyes, you are putting germs and viruses directly on your face and risking getting sick.
3. Cut back on smoking.
Smoking irritates your throat and airways, which makes you more susceptible to many infections including colds. Smoke causes the cilia and little hairs in your nose and lungs to become paralyzed keeping them from being able to sweep cold and flu viruses out of your body.
4. Keep your house clean.
Viruses may be living all over your home, such as on doorknobs, keyboards, light switches, remote controls, and countertops. Cleaning surfaces in your house with soap and water (or even easier, Clorox wipes) can decrease your likelihood of getting sick. This only takes a couple of minutes and you can do it during a study break!
5. Use paper towels instead of cloth towels during cold season.
This sounds like a waste of paper, but cloth towels in the kitchen and bathroom can harbor viruses and germs. These germs can live for several hours and can be spread to everyone that washes their hands and dries them on the towels. By using paper towel, you can get the max benefit from washing your hands by throwing away the germs.
6. Manage stress.
Stress can weaken your immune system and make it more difficult for your body to fight off the common cold and other illnesses. It can be hard during the school semester to completely relax, but managing stress has a ton of benefits from helping you stay well to allowing you to sleep better.
7. Throw tissues directly into the trash.
There are plenty of germs in used tissues. Try to throw them directly into the trash so that you don’t keep these virus sources in your room or in your study area where you spend a lot of time.
8. Don’t cover your sneezes and coughs with your hands.
When you were little, your parents probably told you to cover your mouth when you cough – don’t do that!! When you sneeze or cough into your hands, you are putting germs and viruses directly onto your hands. Instead, sneeze or cough into a tissue if available or into the inside of your elbow – you won’t touch as many people or things with the inside of your elbow as you do with your hands.
9. Include aerobic exercise in your work-out routine.
Aerobic exercise makes you feel better all around. It also increases your body’s normal virus-killing cells that can kill the normal cold before you even know you have it.
10. Know that Echinacea, Vitamin C, and Zinc may not help.
None of these solutions to the common cold have been proven in studies. By using tips 1-9, you can prevent getting sick without having to try supplements from the drug store. In addition, hand washing is much less expensive.