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Nine Ways to Dodge the Office Cold or Flu Virus

Nine Ways to Dodge the Office Cold or Flu Virus
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By    |   Monday, 08 January 2018 03:08 PM

It’s the season where sharing means caring. Except when you’re sharing a cold or the flu. It seems inevitable during the winter months that colds spread through office spaces like wildfires. But it doesn’t have to be so.

Dr. Kelly Powers, National Review regional fellow, tells Newsmax Health that although winter viruses are common, there are ways you can lessen your chances of catching a cold or the flu, and/or reduce the severity or duration of a viral infection.

Here are nine of the best strategies.

Wash your hands: Experts say hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria. Powers tells Newsmax Health that handwashing is a quick and simple act that plays an imperative role in minimizing exposure to bacteria and viruses. Vigorously wash your hands under warm running water for at least 20 seconds before rinsing.

Avoid touching your face and, if you’re not feeling well, stay home from work to prevent the spread of colds and flu. If you’re already sick and can’t miss work, make a point to sneeze or cough into your elbow – not your hand. Also disinfect any common surfaces, like water coolers and refrigerators that you touch regularly.

“No surprise in our high-tech world most jobs are comprised of frequent use of computers, mobile phones, iPads, etc. These devices are often covered with bacteria. It may not be a bad idea to wipe down keyboards, desks, doorknobs with alcohol and your cell phone screens with safe antimicrobials wipes. Just make sure to use something that is approved for phone and computer screens,” says Powers.

Supplements can help: Powers notes that vitamin C should be a staple this time of year to help keep your immune system in tip-top shape.

“Some research has shown that vitamin C can play a role in possible prevention and even shortening the duration of a cold,” she explains.

“Another familiar supplement is Echinacea. Although the mechanism of action is not well understood, research shows that it too can reduce symptoms and speed up the duration of a cold. Zinc is another helpful adjunct as the body’s immune system needs zinc to function properly and studies have also shown that zinc when taken at the start of a cold can shorten the duration and reduce symptoms.”

Rest up: Research shows that adequate rest is an integral component of staying healthy through the cold and flu season. Aim for at least seven hours of shut-eye a night to reap the cold fighting benefits. One study found that those who slept at least seven hours a night were four times less likely to catch a cold than those who only slept between five and six hours.

Manage stress: Few things tax your immune system as much as chronic stress. One study found that people who reported that they felt under a tremendous amount of stress were twice as likely as their non-stressed counterparts to get a cold. When the body is under stress it produces the hormone cortisol, which can cause constant low grade inflammation and increase the chance of developing a virus. Try reducing stress by exercising, yoga, or meditation.

Get moving: Staying active may help prevent a viral infection and reduce its duration if you do catch one. Studies have found that exercise can boost the immune system and reduce the chance of catching a cold by 50 percent. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily.

Take a decongestant: Although it won’t cure the common cold, a nasal decongestant can help you fight off cold symptoms once they hit. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids because they can be dehydrating. Staying hydrated, regardless of whether you take a decongestant, is an important aspect of fighting off colds. Drinking extra fluids may reduce the severity of a cold. Watch out for signs of dehydration like dark yellow urine, dry lips and thirst.

Try chicken soup: Turns out mom was right about the chicken soup. Researchers from Nebraska Medical Center found that chicken soup may help combat a cold by inhibiting neutrophils – white blood cells produced during an inflammatory response to a cold that tend to increase mucous production.

Honey: Adding honey to your tea can help calm colds and ease sore throats. A 2007 study compared honey with a pharmaceutical-grade cough suppressants and a placebo for the treatment of children’s upper respiratory tract infections. Honey came out on top.

Eat your veggies: Vegetables are packed with powerful cold-fighting antioxidants like vitamin C and zinc which can boost immune function. Fill your plate with natural sources of vitamin C including citrus fruit, dark leafy greens, berries, tomatoes and bell peppers.

Powers notes that it’s important to remember that people are contagious even before they have cold symptoms.

“Often individuals are infectious a day or two before symptoms arise and usually remain contagious for about a week thereafter, with some variability,” she explains. “If someone is taking antibiotics for a bacterial infection, this does shorten the potential for transmission as the bacterial load is lessening with each day.”

Powers adds that if you’re feeling sick, stay home. Your coworkers will thank you.

© 2019 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

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It may seem inevitable during the winter months that colds and flu viruses spread through offices and workplaces like wildfires. But it doesn't have to be so. Here are nine strategies that can help you stay healthy during the cold and flu season.
cold, flu, spread, office, winter, virus
Monday, 08 January 2018 03:08 PM
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