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How to Reduce the Spread Colds and Flu

A new flu virus is in the news again this week, with the unwelcome possibility that it can mutate and spread.

At its worst we know that flu is life threatening. Far more commonly, the sufferer only feels vile for a week or so and then recovers.

Too many coughs, colds and flu can create serious productivity problems in a business. If the dreaded winter cold is running amok in your workplace a reminder to our team of simple cold and flu busting steps can really help.

Keep warm

Keeping warm can help you avoid coughs, colds and flu. Wear layers, especially from neck to waist. Bear in mind you can lose up to 30% of body heat through our heads so wear a hat.

Wash your hands

Infections can be carried in the air and transmitted by the "aerosol" effect when someone sneezes, germs can be transmitted by physical contact and enter the body when infected hands touch vulnerable parts like our eyes, mouths and noses. Often infection passes from someone else’s nose or mouth via your hands.

The simplest way to reduce the risk of catching colds and flu is hand washing. Washing your hands properly should take about as long as singing "Happy Birthday" twice (around 20 seconds).

Wash your hands:

  • After wiping or blowing your nose or coughing or sneezing
  • After using the toilet
  • After being in contact with or being near someone who is ill
  • After touching handrails, doorknobs, telephones or other things handled by many people
  • Before and after eating or drinking
  • Before handling food, especially ready-to-eat foods like salads and sandwiches
  • After handling waste materials.
  • When you have touched surfaces touched by man others – for example, when you’ve been travelling by public transport, enter a shop or café.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

If you need to blow your nose or cough use a clean tissue and dispose of it after the first use. Don’t put it back in your pocket. Wash your hands.

Keep things clean. Don’t share pens or pencils (they often get chewed). Wipe your phone, keyboard, doorknobs, light switches and other surfaces regularly touched by many people with antiseptic wipes.

Avoid huddling and heating

Because people are much closer together physically during winter, this makes it easier for infections to pass between people. Crowded trains and Tubes with little ventilation, department stores bustling with shoppers, and people gathering for parties all make catching a cold more likely.

Central heating reduces our defences and affects the respiratory system by drying out the protective mucous in our nasal passages. The dry, stuffy air of central heating can also lead to sore throats and aggravate chest complaints like asthma. A humidifier can help.

Zinc and garlic

The mineral zinc is essential to help fight colds and provide a boost to a flagging immune system. Good food sources include meat, oysters, eggs, seafood, tofu, black- eyed peas and wheat germ. Zinc and Vitamin C make a great cold-busting duo.

Garlic helps ease chest complaints, and small amounts taken daily may also reduce the frequency of colds and flu.

Drink plenty of water, herb or green tea

Doctors recommend we drink about eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy. Water helps the kidneys function properly and flushes out the toxins that accumulate in our bodies.

Get good quality sleep

Lack of sleep makes us more prone to infection.

Moods also affect our ability to fight off infections, and if you feel stressed you are more likely to become ill compared to when you're feeling buoyant, happy and relaxed.

Stay active

Also, lower levels of sunlight and altered levels of hormones such as melatonin and serotonin negatively affect how the immune system performs. Don't underestimate the importance of regular outside activity, especially in winter. Apart from keeping our circulation going, regular moderate exercise increases the number of natural killer (NK) cells in our bodies.


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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.

Copyright © 2020 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.

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