staying flu-free during the holidays _ mercy health blog
Healthy Living

How to Stay Flu-Free During the Holidays

Dec 20 2017

Nobody wants to spend the holidays sick in bed — read these tips to avoid the flu.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – with merriment, family and friends, travel and plenty of food and drink to go around. Unfortunately, one other thing tends to spread during the holidays are germs as flu activity increases during winter months. Fortunately, these tips will help you stay flu-free during the holidays and months to come.

How the flu spreads

Did you know you don’t have to come into direct contact with someone who has the flu? It can spread through airborne droplets when we breathe, cough or sneeze. These droplets pass easily when we’re spending time in close proximity to others. This happens more during the holiday season, as we may snuggle up in the living room with friends and family or pile onto a fully-booked airplane.

Influenza viruses can also live on the surfaces we touch such as hand rails, doorknobs and light switches. Whether it’s from having guests over, attending parties or braving the shopping madness, we’re often exposed to more people during the holidays. This means more people touching surfaces and more exposure to germs.

It’s possible to be infected with the flu virus up to four days before noticing symptoms. This means that people who don’t know they have the flu could be infecting you. While practicing healthy hygiene is important all year-round, take extra precautions this time of year.

Tips for preventing the spread of flu

When you have the flu, you may find yourself hugging a box of tissues — weak, fatigued and unable to taste. That’s no way to enjoy the season’s festivities. Use these tips to stay flu-free during the holidays:

  • Whether you’re working in the kitchen or just drooling over the holiday spread – avoid coughing or sneezing near food and dishes. Wear gloves or use serving tools when handling food, and don’t share drinks or utensils with others.
  • Continue to incorporate healthy eating and exercising habits into your routine, even when on break from work or school, to help keep your immune system strong.
  • When traveling, be sure to disinfect or wash your hands frequently. Cover your face with your elbow if you have to cough or sneeze, avoid touching your face, and try to make contact with as few surfaces as possible.
  • The best protection against the flu is always to get vaccinated, which helps your body fight off strains of influenza virus. Though it doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu, it still lessens the symptoms and severity if you do.

Have any flu-related health concerns? Mercy Health is here for you. Find a doctor near you today.

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