Ever hear the old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Cold and flu season is here along with the latest outbreak of Mumps… makes me think of all the ways to prevent those moments of misery. The cold, flu and mumps viruses are air borne which is spread thru coughing and sneezing or by touching surfaces like door knob that has the virus on it. While the only way to get sick is to be in close contact with a person infected with the virus, some people can spread the virus 24 hours before they actually show symptoms. Outbreaks are common in environments where a lot of people are in close contact, such as classrooms, dormitories, locker rooms, and camps.
Rather than avoid all human contact, lets look at some of the best ways to protect yourself:
#1 Hand Washing
According to the CDC, Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Wet, lather and scrub for 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing happy birthday) and rinse. If you do not have clean water and soap then use >60% alcohol hand sanitize, just keep in mind it is not as effective as hand washing.
Wash hands often. It is recommended that we wash hands before eating and after using bathroom and after cough, sneeze, or blowing nose.
#2 Don't touch your face!
Mucus membranes in eyes, nose and lips are the way those nasty cold and flu germs get in. Don't give it chance! We all touch our faces without thinking maybe a dozen times a day. If you don't believe me, keep track for one hour.
#3 Get moving
One of the easiest ways to improve your general health and more specifically, your immune system is to get daily exercise. Exercise is great for improving circulation. Not only the heart and the blood gets moving but cells like lymph are moving the way they should. Because moving in general stimulates the flow of lymph fluid, giving a tremendous boost to the immune system.
#4 Eat fresh fruits and veggies
Proper nutrition is the key to disease prevention and optimal health. Getting the recommended 9 – 15 servings a day of fruit and vegetables helps ensure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals to support immune health. Grains also have some good qualities but the most nutrient rich foods are fruits and vegetables. They will give you greater bang for your immune system buck.
#5 Get Plenty of Sleep and Rest
This may seem like common sense but many people burn the candle at both ends with work, family, school and play. Now you know why it is when you are the busiest or have that big test coming up, that will be the time you catch a cold or the flu. Make a point to get the amount of sleep you need. Schedule it. Set the alarm on your phone to stop for the day. Purposely schedule rest periods during the day breaking up the stress of burning candles at both ends.
Oh, no! I'm already sick!
Symptom for mumps are much like the flu include fever, headache, and tiredness. There may also be swelling under the ear, the parotid salivary glands, making the cheeks look puffy. Cold symptoms usually include runny or stuffy nose.
What if you think you are sick? As with any virus, good hygiene practices, like washing hands well and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, can help prevent transmission. Drink fluids and get plenty of rest. Grandmas chicken soup and cartoon movie marathons come to mind.
If you're diagnosed with mumps, the CDC recommends avoiding close contact with others for at least 5 days after the initial gland swelling to reduce the risk of spreading the mumps. So stay home and allow your body heal.