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How to Stay Flu-Free for the Holidays

THURSDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- The overlap of the cold and flu season with the holiday season can make it a challenge to stay healthy as you go to parties and get together with family and friends.

Getting a flu shot is important, but other precautions can also reduce your risk of getting sick or of spreading illness to others, according to a Ryerson University news release.

Here are some tips for a healthy holiday:

  • When you have to cough or sneeze, do it in your sleeve or the inside of your sweater or jacket. That will prevent the spread of viruses to those nearby.
  • Wash your hands regularly and always after using the restroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose.
  • Use the air kiss or fake peck on the cheek instead of a kiss on the lips when greeting family and friends.
  • Always use serving spoons or forks -- never your fingers -- to put food on your plate. If you're hosting a party, be sure to supply plenty of serving utensils and provide people with alternatives to reaching into bowls, such as making individual servings.
  • Find creative ways to personalize cups so that people don't accidentally mix them up. Don't serve beverages in their original containers because people might get confused about which bottle or can belongs to them.
  • Carry hand sanitizer with you and use it before you eat any food or touch your face, particularly your nose and mouth. This will help protect you against viruses you may have picked up from doorknobs, shopping cart handles, handrails and faucets.
  • When you attend religious services, try to stay three to six feet away from others and don't share the communion wine goblet. Instead of shaking hands and hugging, use a friendly wave or elbow tap to greet others.
  • Make sure you get adequate sleep, which is important for keeping your immune system strong.
  • If you develop a cold or flu, stay at home until you feel better.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about preventing the flu.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Ryerson University, news release, Nov. 25, 2011

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