Have you ever gotten sick and tried to figure out where you caught your cold or flu? As you take your medications, you go through a mental checklist of people you have been with and places you have been in order to identify the culprit that made you feel miserable. But there are times when you just can’t figure out how you got sick.
How You May Have Gotten Your Cold or Flu
If no one in your family or at your office was sick and you can’t think of anyone else you have been around who was sick, the culprit was probably a stranger’s germs. Cold and flu germs are often passed along by someone coughing or sneezing and then touching something, contaminating whatever they touched. You come along, touch the contaminated item, and now, you have their germs.
One of the problems with colds and flu is that people can spread the germs before they have any symptoms. So the lady you were standing next to at the store may have gotten you sick, even if she wasn’t coughing or sneezing.
Where I Was Getting Sneaky Cold and Flu Germs
After getting a nasty flu one year, I realized I was using the equipment at my gym and not being careful about cleaning my hands. I started diligently cleaning my hands when I was done with my workouts, and I got sick less often.
During my decade-long career as a floor nurse, I would get sick fairly regularly, and I assumed it was because I was frequently in contact with sick people. Once I paid more attention to what I was touching when I wasn’t at work, though, I had such an improvement in the number of colds I caught that my family asked what I was doing differently.
Avoiding Cold and Flu Germs
I do the usual things to avoid getting sick, like eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep, but other things have also helped keep my number of sick days low. You can easily adopt habits to avoid getting germs on your hands in the first place. For example, I was more careful about not touching things that people who may have been sick might have touched.
Here are some other habits that helped me catch fewer colds:
– I try to avoid touching things like hand railings, especially in crowded places like theme parks and shopping malls.
– I use my knuckles to press buttons. This includes elevator buttons, copy machine buttons, water fountains, store debit/credit card machine buttons, and even gas pump buttons.
– To open doors, I use my forearm, shoulder, or the back of my hand. If I have to use my hand to use a handle, like a bathroom door handle, I use my non-dominant hand. In other words, since I’m right-handed, I use my left hand to open the door.
– A tip from my sister: I cover my coffee cup and water bottle whenever I’m near someone who is coughing or sneezing. This one tip helped me remain cold- and flu-free for years, even when I was sharing an office with people who had bad colds.
Monitoring what you are touching, cleaning your hands before you eat, and not touching your face when you’re sick (since germs easily enter the body via your eyes, nose, or mouth) are habits you can easily use to help keep yourself healthy year-round.
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