Staying healthy during flu season

Published 7:00 am Friday, October 24, 2014

According to a 2007 study from researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the influenza virus is more stable and can stay in the air longer when the air is cold and dry.
Fall is upon us and with this change in weather comes the much-dreaded spread of flu and cold viruses. Colds are largely transmitted through surface contact with the virus or direct contact with a sick individual. The cold virus is then contracted on the hands and typically transferred to the nose, eyes or mouth through inadvertent contact. Spending time indoors in close quarters with other people, which is more common in the winter, can facilitate the spread of the cold and flu viruses.
Complications from the flu include bacterial pneumonia, ear or sinus infections, dehydration, worsening of chronic health conditions. Each year approximately 5-20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications.
There are many ways to reduce your risk of contracting a cold or flu virus this winter. Perhaps no preventive measure is more effective than getting biannual flu shots. In addition, wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs, and disinfect remote controls, computer keyboards, tablets, mobile phones, and other items handled by multiple people on any given day. Spending as much time outdoors as possible can help you escape potentially contaminated indoor air. If you come down with the flu, increase the humidity in your home by running the shower with the door open, using a recreational aquarium or boiling pots of water. Maintain a warm indoor temperature to reduce the likelihood that the flu virus will spread.
Other ways to reduce your risk for the cold and flu include maintaining a healthy diet, getting several minutes of sunlight per day and making sure to exercise regularly to boost your immune system.

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