Skip to content

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Stop the Spread of Cold and Flu Germs

    Font Size

    Is that pile of used tissues on your coworker's desk making you uneasy about cold and flu germs? Or do you feel a cold coming on and you're worried about spreading it to your family? Either way, it's time to take some simple steps to stop the spread of germs -- as well as a lot of sneezing, coughing, and all-around misery.

    Wash your hands. It's the single most effective way to stop the spread of germs. Once cold and flu germs are on your hands, it's very easy for them to get into your body when you touch your eyes or mouth.

    Recommended Related to Cold & Flu

    Shot in the Arm: The Swine Flu Vaccine Trial

    Wow. I am almost disappointed that I'm perfectly fine. No skin reactions. No soreness. No muscle aches. No drama. And no flu, although a single dose of the H1N1 swine flu vaccine probably offers no protection. NIH Director Tony Fauci says that my experience is typical -- those of us who got the swine flu shot haven't had any unusual reactions. Earlier this week, I went to a two-day swine-flu symposium for journalists featuring all of CDC's top researchers (and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, too)...

    Read the Shot in the Arm: The Swine Flu Vaccine Trial article > >

    Washing knocks germs off your hands and down the drain. Do it thoroughly:

    • Use soap and water.
    • Scrub for at least 20 seconds.
    • Get in the habit of washing your hands before eating or preparing food and after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.
    • If you're taking care of a sick person, wash your hands before and after being with them.

    Use hand sanitizer. If you can't get to a sink, the next best thing is an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Buy one with at least 60% alcohol. Rub it all over your hands and keep rubbing until your hands are dry. Keep small bottles of hand sanitizer with you -- at work, in your car, and in your purse.

    Cover your nose and mouth. It's one of the best ways to keep from spreading germs. If you can, cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw it out promptly. If you're empty-handed, don't cough into your hand. You'll just smear germs on the next thing you touch. Instead, cough into the crook of your elbow.

    Disinfectyour space. You don't need to spend all day spraying disinfectant on every surface of your house. Still, if someone in your family is sick, use a household disinfectant to wipe down high-traffic spots: computers, phones, doorknobs, and remotes.

    Use disposables. Cold and flu germs can cling to fabric. So when someone in your house is sick, replace hand towels and dishrags with paper towels. Remove water glasses and add paper cups in the bathroom, too.

    Today on WebMD

    hot toddy
    15 tips to help you feel better.
    man sneezing into elbow
    Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
     
    teen girl coughing
    Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
    elder berry
    Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
     
    Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
    Slideshow
    cold weather
    VIDEO
     
    Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
    Article
    Boy holding ear
    Slideshow
     

    Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    woman receiving vaccine shot
    Article
    woman with fever
    Article
     
    Waking up from sleep
    Article
    woman with sore throat
    Slideshow