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Simple Ways To Prevent Colds and Influenza

sick with cold

Happy New Year! 1.5.20  It’s cold and flu season.

Here are steps that really safeguard against germs. I’ll cover the ones that work and leave the discussion of rumored magic spells to someone else.

Use hand sanitizer – it works!

Hand sanitizers have improved in recent years. Look for one that contains 60% alcohol. That’s the amount needed to kill germs.

Use it once or twice during a typical day, as well as after using public transportation, when you get home, or before you eat (if you can’t wash your hands).

Wash your hands constantly? No, not such a good idea:

How a Doctor Avoids the Flu

I get asked a lot about how I avoid the flu. Here are my best tips. 

Hand washing, especially after using the restroom or before you eat, is crucial for protecting yourself from cold and flu germs. Only 5% of people wash their hands for long enough to effectively get rid of germs, research shows, and only two out of three people bother to use soap! Therefore, the best answer for you is to wash with soap, dry your hands, add some hand sanitizer and that’s enough for several hours. Again, be mindful of what you’re touching. If you know your hands are onto hand rails, train seats, or if you’ve been working in a kitchen or around butchered meat, very certainly wash and sanitize again. Avoid touching your face, mouth,  nose and eyes! Germs move into mucus membranes quickly. Women should be even more mindful of this if using the toilet.

Turn off the faucet with a paper towel is a wise thing to do.

“The faucet handle is the most contaminated surface in a restroom,” Gerba says. Using the same towel to open the restroom door on the way out is also a good idea. Pull the door open, prop it open with your hip or foot and drop the towel into a basket by the door. If there’s no basket, just drop it by the door until the janitor gets the message.

The hand dryer is not a good idea. They’re noisy, burn a lot of electricity and spread 1,300 times more germs than paper towels . Use paper towels if available, or air dry your hands. Just let the hands be wet and they’ll dry while you’re busy walking through the mall.

A paper toilet seat cover is not effective.

The porcelain toilet throne is actually one of the cleanest spots of a public restroom because they’re often cleaned with disinfectants, Gerba says. If it gives you peace of mind, go for it, but that thin piece of paper isn’t going to do much good, since fluid can go right through it But chances are good you’re not going to come in contact with anything that can infect you.


Avoid “touch” screens. If you must touch, use an elbow or knuckle or pencil eraser. Tests on screens at eight fast-food restaurants bacteria that cause the kinds of infections you can pick up in a hospital (Enterococcus faecalis), as well as staphylococcus, which can cause blood poisoning. You’re safer ordering at the counter.

Swimming Pools are not cleaned enough with chlorine and filters!

A water park full of kids can have a filthy pool. Avoid those, or use them first in the morning before the place fills with more kids.


If your gym offers a way to clean the equipment before you use it, do it. All of those handsome men and pretty women sweating their fat away can make free weights and machine handles into danger zones.

Restaurant Menus

May times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Sanitize your hands after the menu is gone, and don’t lay your silverware on top of the menu or the table. Keep them on a napkin..

Fruit Wedges

Like to squeeze a little lemon into your water? Researchers looked at dozens of wedges from the rims of restaurant glasses. They found nearly 70% of the lemons had disease-causing microbes, that could lead to some nasty stomach issues. Take your iced tea lemon-free.

Water Fountains

School water spouts can be dirtier than the bathroom! That’s because the bathrooms are cleaned regularly. Janitors don’t even think about water fountains. Carry a water bottle instead.

Soap Dispensers

These sudsy pumps are a breeding ground for bacteria. About half of all bathroom users wash their hands at all after leaving the toilet area. Again, washing is good and after hands dry sanitizer is better.

Shopping Carts

Everyting touches them, kids dirty diapers, raw meat juice, any sort of dirt. Apply sanitizer or alcohol. Many stores offer antibacterial wipes these days. Use them.

Elevator Buttons

Elevator buttons are equal to door handles and touch screens. They’re filthy. Push them with your elbow, or a knuckle, wear gloves, take the stairs, or have sanitizer along for the ride.

Hotel Rooms

The TV remote is the dirtiest item. Give it a quick wipe before you channel surf. Other germ sources: the bedside lamp switch, bedspread, hair dryer, telephone, and unwrapped drinking glasses.


Grubby little fingers grab slides and swings one after another. But playgrounds are rarely cleaned. The worst spot is the sandbox, with 36 times more germs than a cafeteria tray. That’s because bacteria love nothing more than hiding out in warm, moist places. Come stocked with hand sanitizer and wipes. But especially important, teach your kids if they get an itchy eye or nose touch with a clean tissue or handkerchief, not with their hand.


Keypads, cash, and a revolving door of bank customers and money is possibly the filthiest thing on earth. As for ATMs, companies hope to roll out touchscreens with antimicrobial glass to fight cold and flu. For now though, your best defense is to press the buttons with a pen.

Touch elevator buttons with your knuckle or sleeve

The ground-floor button, which everyone touches, can get especially grimy.

Avoid shaking hands or hugging people who appear ill.

Explain that you’re not being rude; you’re protecting your health. Both experts say they avoid touching friends and relatives who are sick, especially if they’re coughing and sneezing.

Keep your fingers off your face

Touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with germy hands is a surefire way to get sick. And you may be doing it more than you realize. One study found the average adult touches their face about 16 times per hour. I watch lectures often and it’s notable how many, even in public on state, unconsciously rub their nose while lecturing.

Bring your own yoga mat to class

Your yoga mat can be a prime place for germs. Make sure to clean it with antibacterial wipes after every use.

Wear a surgical mask on airplanes, trains, buses, elevators, and in any other crowded location:

It’s not overkill  especially if someone behind, beside, or in front of you is sneezing and coughing. Any further away, you’re probably safe.

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