‘Tis the season to be nauseous and filled with sniffles, right? Wintertime means cold and flu season is in full force, and that it’s officially time to prepare to keep those cruel, relentless germs at bay. It’s not easy to avoid getting sick in the winter; sometimes it just happens, even when you think you’re on top of your Purell game. The truth is, skirting a sore throat or a case of the sniffles this time of year really isn’t rocket science. It’s simply a matter of taking care of yourself.
But, unfortunately, it is true that certain illnesses tend to be more common in the winter, like the flu, according to Healthline, because the "influenza virus is most stable in cool, dry temperatures." And while it’s true that "cold doesn’t cause illness," the outlet explains, factors like the weather "may weaken your ability to fight off illness." Great.
Here’s the thing, though: You can’t just quarantine yourself inside your apartment all winter long, which means you can’t avoid all the germs at all times. All you can really do is try to stick to some of the below, expert-recommended tips for staying healthy and steering clear of winter colds, flus, and viruses, and simply hope for the best.
Be mindful of how much Vitamin D you’re getting
While taking vitamins might sometimes seem like a futile task, Dr. Chirag Shah, a medical reviewer for PollMed and board-certified emergency medicine physician, says that, in the wintertime, your body will thank you for making sure your vitamin D levels are solid. "Vitamin D is a ‘pro hormone’ that has an important role in directly regulating the immune system in the body," he tells Elite Daily. "In the winter, many people stay indoors and get inadequate amounts of sun exposure. This is a key requirement for synthesizing vitamin D naturally, which results in lower vitamin D levels and a diminished ability to fight off infections."
If you’re not really into getting your vitamins via pills/supplements, there are plenty of tasty foods packed with vitamin D that you can treat yourself to this winter.
Use a humidifier when you’re inside
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How can a humidifier help you avoid a cold, you ask? According to David Barbour, CEO of Vivio Life Sciences, cold weather, and prolonged exposure to cold air, can lead to dried-out mucus membranes that can then leave you susceptible to pathogens.
"It is this reaction to cold air that increases your likelihood of getting sick," Barbour tells Elite Daily. "If you have to go out in the cold and breathe cold air and interact with the cold weather, the lack of water vapor in the air will dry out your mucus. A good way to counteract this is, when you get home or to your office, to use a humidifier."
When you’re sick, actually tell people and stay home
Yep, I’m lookin’ at you. Don’t be that person who feels like crap and goes to work anyway. Powering through when you’re under the weather will probably just be worse for your body in the long run, not to mention the fact that you’re almost definitely spreading germs to other people.
"If you start to feel ill," suggests Dr. Nodar Janas, medical director at Upper East Side Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Manhattan, "tell friends and relatives that you’re coming down with some symptoms and don’t want to share it with anybody."
Giving yourself time to rest at the onset of a cold, he tells Elite Daily, can help shorten the overall timeline of the illness, as well as minimize the chances that your symptoms will get worse.
Clean everything you touch in your work and home space
Dig out those sanitizing wipes, and keep the vacuum running, people. You want to get those germs out of your house, your workspace, and wherever else you typically spend your time.
According to Jotham Hatch, a cleaning expert with Chem-Dry Carpet Cleaning, sanitizing doorknobs and vacuuming upholstered furniture are important ways to keep germs from spreading. "One of the most commonly touched areas in your home can be the doorknobs," he tells Elite Daily. "Sanitize these as frequently as possible to decrease the possibility of germs spreading within your house."
The same goes for couches, Hatch adds, since it’s a common gathering place for family or friends. He suggests vacuuming and cleaning all over, including the armrests.
Don’t forget to eat well and stay hydrated
It’s easy to take this particular tip for granted or assume it’s not really that important. But according to health and wellness expert Cassie Sobelton, author of the book Back to Balance, maintaining a balanced diet and steady hydration levels can help fuel your body with what it needs to feel its best and fight off any potential illnesses.
"Stay hydrated with water," she tells Elite Daily, "and consume a daily portion of high-bacteria foods and drinks, like yogurt and Kombucha, to help boost the immune system’s ability to fight germs."
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