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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

How Not to Spread the Flu

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How to Avoid Spreading or Catching the Flu continued...

Alcohol-based hand disinfectants work great, too. Make sure your kids’ teachers have plenty during flu season. Keep some in your desk and car, too.

Wash or disinfect your hands any time you touch something a sick person might have handled. Computer keyboards, telephones, doorknobs, elevator buttons, faucet handles, countertops, and railings get lots of hand traffic.

5. When you wash your hands in a public restroom:

  • Run the water until it’s warm.
  • Get a paper towel and hold it under one arm (toilet paper will do, too).
  • Put soap on your hands.
  • Sing Happy Birthday to You twice while you wash.
  • Rinse thoroughly. Soap doesn't kill all the germs, but it does let them slide off under warm water.
  • Use the paper towel to turn off the water. If there isn’t an air dryer, use it to work the lever to get more towels.
  • Dry your hands and grab a towel to open the door as you leave.

6. Don’t touch your face.

If droplets from a sick person get into your nose, mouth, or eyes, you’ll probably get the flu, too. Remember, most people get it when they touch surfaces these droplets have landed on, then touch their face before washing.

7. Practice good health habits in general.

Get plenty of sleep. Eat a well-balanced diet. Take time to relax each day to manage your stress. And exercise at least half an hour 5 days a week.

What's the Best Way to Prevent the Flu?

The No. 1 way to avoid catching it is to get a flu shot

You may also want to see a doctor about flu drugs or antiviral meds if there are people in your house at high risk of flu complications. This includes children younger than 24 months, adults over age 65, or people with chronic diseases or severe asthma. These medications really work to prevent flu complications, but you have to take them soon after exposure to the virus.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on September 03, 2014
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