January 30, 2019
Most people understand that public places and common spaces are rife with germs, and special care must be taken during cold and flu season to prevent the spread of germs. Reducing your chances of getting sick requires more than diligent handwashing — it requires you to commit to a healthy lifestyle. While you can’t avoid germs altogether, you can help protect yourself and your family from illness by being mindful of the most common ways people get sick and taking steps to strengthen your immune system.
Here are five things that make you susceptible to illness:
A little nervous tension here and there is normal, but persistent anxiety often results in a host of issues, including acid reflux, skin rashes, insomnia, depression, and a weakened immune system. Worry warts and cool cucumbers alike are susceptible to catching a cold, but those who prioritize stress management and self-care can expect to reap the rewards of a balanced immune system.
Everything from subway poles to door handles to elevator buttons pose a threat because of the sheer volume of germs covering public surfaces, as well as how long viruses can survive on inanimate objects. The flu virus, for example, can last up to two days on a given surface, whereas strep pneumonia can contaminate an object for up to three weeks. Practice proper handwashing techniques in order to help avoid catching a bug, cold, or other virus.
Smoking cigarettes degrades the tiny, disease-fighting hairs that line your nasal passages and lungs, putting you at greater risk of contracting a virus or infection. Smokers with damaged lungs are also more likely to suffer complications of the respiratory variety, which could lead to more serious, chronic conditions.
Alcohol consumption is directly related to immunity and your body’s ability to fight infection. In fact, one study demonstrated on lab mice indicates that the aftereffects could reduce immune efficiency for up to 24 hours. If you decide to indulge in a cocktail or two, focus on staying hydrated by consuming plenty of water throughout the evening.
If you struggle to get a good night’s rest, you could find yourself battling colds or other bugs more frequently than the well-rested portion of the population. Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to germs like the cold or flu virus. As you sleep, your immune system restores itself and prepares to release infection-and inflammation-fighting proteins. So, getting the proper amount of shut-eye is crucial to your overall well-being.
Whether you’re the parent of young children or you work among the public, there are steps you can take to avoid getting sick. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, especially after doing things like shopping or traveling via public transit. Adhere to a diet rich in immune-boosting foods, such as antioxidant-rich blueberries, probiotic-packed Greek yogurt, and zinc-filled fish. And if you do catch a bug, consult your physician.