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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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How to Prevent the Flu

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Build a Germ Barrier continued...

You can also pick it up from touching a surface -- like the restaurant table where a sick person dined before you. Flu germs can linger on places like tables, counters, desks, doorknobs, and faucets for up to 8 hours.

When you touch a germy surface and put your hands on your eyes, nose, or mouth, your fingers bring the virus right into your body.

You can try to avoid sick people, but that's not always easy to do, especially when you're in close quarters like movie theaters and malls. If you can't steer clear of the virus, at least use good hygiene to create a barrier against flu germs.

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap every time you shake hands or touch a surface that might be germ-covered.
  • Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you for times when you can’t get to a sink.
  • Bring along disinfectant wipes to clean any surfaces you're about to touch.
  • Take extra care to not touch your mouth, eyes, or nose without washing your hands first.

Sharing is wonderful, but not during flu season. Be stingy with your utensils, plates, glasses, and anything else you touch with your mouth. Wash used dishes and utensils in the dishwasher or in the sink with hot water and soap.

Take Care of Yourself

If you want your immune system to be in good enough shape to fight off the flu and other germs, you need to stay healthy.

All these will give your body the strength it needs to fend off an influenza attack.

Quit Smoking

In addition to everything else smoking does to your body -- from boosting your cancer risk to giving you premature wrinkles -- it could make you more likely to get the flu.

There’s evidence that smokers get the flu more often than people who don’t light up. And when they do get sick, smokers tend to have a more severe infection and a higher risk of dying from the flu.

Holding off this nasty illness is just one more reason to talk to your doctor about ways to quit smoking.

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