December 15th, 2017

To Your Health: Stricter hygiene will help prevent spread of flu

By Gillian Slade on November 20, 2017.

Many people are battling colds and the number of flu cases appears high for this early in the season, so it is time for stricter hygiene practices in your home and at your place of work.

Thoroughly washing your hands with soap and warm water is one of the most important ways to protect yourself and others. If someone in your home gets flu or a cold, increase the cleaning of surfaces you all share. Wipe light switches, door handles, kitchen and bathroom surfaces thoroughly and frequently. When you have used a tissue to blow your nose or to cough into, throw it away immediately and then go and wash your hands.

If you are from my generation you’ll remember your mother warning you about catching a cold because you were not dressed warmly enough. There is a measure of truth to that according to some research.

It has now been shown that keeping your nose warm just might help your immune system fight off a cold.

Scientists have found that when there is a drop of five degrees in temperature inside your nose you are less likely to fend off a cold virus. About 20 per cent of us carry the cold virus in our noses at any given time. A balaclava would keep your nose warm or you could opt for one of those clown noses and that would have everyone laughing too, which is always a good thing.

When you have not been successful keeping a cold at bay, plenty of rest and liquids will help you recover as quickly as possible.

A Chinese tea made from honeysuckle has been used to soothe the symptoms of colds for centuries. Make a tea with fresh ginger to drink and/or inhale. It can help to clear the nasal passages. Hot water with a slice of lemon is also a refreshing drink. Add a little ginger to enhance the flavour too.

Try a mixture of cider vinegar with honey and a pinch of ginger to soothe your throat and calm a cough. That bowl of hot chicken soup does have therapeutic benefits and is so comforting.

Eating raw garlic has long been recognized as a natural remedy for flu but be considerate of the people you’re living with. An overpowering smell of garlic may turn them away.

It is the season of Christmas parties and traditionally that can spread the flu virus. If you’re ill, even with a cold, stay home and get plenty of bed rest. You will recover more quickly and you will not be passing the virus on to others you work or socialize with.

Here’s to keeping our noses warm, fending off colds and flu, and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or 403-528-8635.

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