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Autumn is a beautiful time of year, especially here in Upstate NY. But while you're outside enjoying apple cider and pumpkin patches, don't forget that with September comes germs! You're most likely to catch a cold or flu between September and May, and most people develop at least two colds each year. Knowing how to protect yourself and treat your colds properly will help make the season easier for you and your family.
Cold germs pass through the air from person to person, and when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or talks, tiny drops of mucus hit the air. You can take them in through your mouth or nose. Those droplets can spread out to about 6 feet, so if you can, keep your distance.
Cleaning your hands is the most crucial aspect of staying healthy. Using warm water and soap, scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after you've been in a crowded area, such as a school, mall, or office, where you can easily come into contact with someone who is sick.
Another critical aspect if you want to stay healthy. Germs can live on hard surfaces, such as doorknobs, keyboards, shopping carts, and light switches for up to 8 hours. Some viruses that cause the common cold can survive on surfaces--even ones that have been cleaned--for months.
If you touch something that a sick person has coughed or sneezed on, and then put your fingers near your eyes, nose, mouth, or anywhere on your face, you're likely to get sick too. This is basic hygiene, but it is easy to forget as you go through the hustle and bustle of the day.
Take care of yourself every day to help your body fight off cold and flu germs. You'll want to get enough rest, exercise, and to stay at a healthy weight. Stick to a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If you drink alcohol, limit your intake to small amounts, and if you smoke, know that smoking can make flu and cold symptoms much worse.
If you're unsure about what foods to eat during this season, you can never go wrong with the basic fruits and veggies. Broccoli, spinach, blueberries, pineapple, and banana's are just a few of the many fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants. Another tip: Zinc is your friend. Eat foods that are rich in Zinc, or at the first sign of a cold, begin taking Zinc tablets, such as Cold-Eeze.
If the air in your home or workplace is very dry, flu germs will stick around longer. Run a humidifier to make it harder for illness to spread. The moist air causes airborne germs to drop to the floor, where they're less likely to infect you.
If you wouldn't share a tissue with someone, don't share a towel. It's easy to forget that bathroom towels harbor germs too. When someone in your home is sick, put out an extra hand towel for others to use, or use paper towels.