Colds and flu

Updated 11 July 2014

15 tips to stay healthy in winter

Don't let colds and flu stop you this winter. Follow these tips and hints and you can continue to get more out life despite the weather forecast.

3

Did you know that the common cold accounts for up to three years of the average person’s life? The reasons behind this rather depressing statistic are not easy to pinpoint, and in contrast to what many believe, have nothing to do with the chill in the air.

And while it is the most common illness among humans it does not occur as a result of wet hair, stress, a change in temperature, cold feet or bad weather. The fact of the matter is that when the weather forecast is at a low, our immune systems are weakened making us more susceptible to colds.

Don’t let colds and flu stop you this winter. Follow these tips and hints and you can continue to get more out life despite the weather forecast.

Handy hands

  • Hands are described as a germ factory for a reason, so be sure to wash your hands several times throughout the day using a sanitizer.
  • While warm soap and water also work, make sure you don’t rush the process and wash your hands for at least 20-seconds to kill all germs.
  • Use paper towel to dry your hands and close the tap so that you don’t come into contact with germs once again after washing them.
  • Keep your hands away from your nose and mouth wherever possible so that they don’t attract additional germs. And if you need to sneeze, try to do so in the crook of your arm so that the germs on your hands don’t come into contact with your nose.
  • Try and eat with a knife and fork so that germs are not transferred from your hands to your food.

Surface issues

  • Colds and flu are spread by viruses which can easily spread from surface to person and person to person. For this reason it’s a good idea to carry an alcohol-based cleanser with you to sterilise any surfaces you believe to be putting your health at risk.
  • Antiseptic wipes should also be used to cleanse desktops and phones regularly.
  • Always dispose of used tissues as they are the ultimate germ carriers.

Build immunity

  • Exercise to build your immunity. Research suggests that by working out and making your heart pump a little faster you strengthen your immune system.
  • If you’re already sick, the general rule of thumb is that you can continue to do so if the symptoms are experienced above the neck, such as stuffy noses and sore throats. If, however, you have a temperature and are experiencing aches and pains in your body you should rest and give the gym a skip.
  • Don’t worry, be happy. It’s a well-known fact that a positive attitude can boost your immune system.

Eat and sleep

  • Get at least eight to ten hours sleep a night to prevent your immune system from weakening and making you more susceptible to colds and flu.
  • Eating large quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables supports your immune system so make sure your diet is designed to protect you
  • Think before you dip and be wary of sharing chip dips with friends as they may harbour unwanted germs.

Steer clear

  • While it may seem perfectly obvious, stay away from people displaying symptoms such as coughing and sneezing.

(Press release, Vicks, June 2012) 

(Picture: Woman drinking tea from Shutterstock)

 

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Ask the Expert

Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules