Common Sense Flu Prevention and Awareness Tips

Cold and Flu Season right around the corner: Common Sense Flu Prevention and Awareness Tips

Cold and Flu season nears, it is time to think about how to avoid getting sick this fall and winter. According to the Centers for Disease control more than 200,000 people in the US are hospitalized every year and more than 36,000 die from flu each year. We can all help remove some of the fear of this cold and flu season by some common sense methods. Prevention and washing your hands are key critical components to increased cold and flu prevention.

While stressing all prevention methods we can’t forget about co-workers. One of the fastest ways to contaminate your co-workers is from your water cooler spigots. PLEASE, don’t take your used water bottles or drinking containers and hold them up directly against the spout! The Dept. of Health has informed me that virus or bacteria can live on these for up to 2 hours. Prevention is one of our greatest defenses against any bacteria and virus but we must all contribute. We are part of our nation’s critical infrastructure that must stay healthy. Our customer’s telecommunications systems are essential.

So please take a moment to review the following common sense flu prevention tips:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly.
  • Practice social distancing. Don’t move in toward someone who is coughing or sneezing; politely take a step back.
  • Practice proper sneezing and coughing etiquette. Don’t cough or sneeze into your hand and then use your hand to use a pen at the bank or open a door or refrigerator. Sneeze and cough into your elbow.
  • Use a hand sanitizer and sanitizer wipes on your phones, key boards and door handles and when soap and water is not available.

What should I do if I get sick?
If you live in areas where swine influenza cases have been identified and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact your health care provider, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.

If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.


If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.

In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting

I know how this sounds. It sounds like something our parents told us as children. But think about these tips the next time you sneeze or cough. Look at your own habits. Then look at others. You’ll be surprised. This refresher, as silly as it may seem, could just keep the lights burning through this flu season.

 Some CDC Doctors recommend the following Flu and Cold wellness tips to help you recover:

For chest congestion:

•             Drink plenty of fluids (8 to 10 cups a day) such as water, sports drinks, herbal teas, fruit drinks, or Ginger ale. Fluids help break up congestion, prevent dehydration and keep your throat moist.

•             Inhaled steam can ease congestion too. Create steam with a humidifier, or steam up the bathroom by running a hot shower.

For nasal congestion:

•             Relieve clogged nasal and sinus passages caused by excessive mucus with either decongestant pills or with a nasal spray. These are best taken following a hot shower and lots of nose blowing to clear out the mucus as much as possible. Then use a hand sanitizer to kill germs on your hands.

For fever and pain, body aches and tiredness:

•             Rest get your full 8 hours of sleep at night if possible.

•             Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) can help decrease fever and ease sore throat pain and body aches.

For cough:

•             For a dry hacking cough, you may choose a medication that contains a cough suppressant – Look for over-the-counter medications that contain dextromethorphan.

•             For a cough that produces excessive mucus, or phlegm, you may want to use an expectorant that loosens phlegm. Guaifenesin is the most common active ingredient.

For sore throat:

•             A warm salt-water gargle can relieve a scratchy throat.

•             Lozenges, mouthwashes, and sprays that contain a numbing ingredient can ease the pain.

While getting a flu vaccine each year is the best way to protect against flu, influenza antiviral drugs can fight against influenza, offering a second line of defense against the flu.

Antiviral drugs are an important second line of defense in the prevention and treatment of flu.

  • Antiviral drugs are important in the treatment and prevention influenza.
  • Influenza antiviral drugs can be used to treat the flu or to prevent infection with flu viruses.
  • Treatment with antivirals should begin within 48 hours of getting sick, and can reduce your symptoms and shorten the time you are sick.
  • When used for prevention, antivirals are 70% to 90% effective in preventing infection with influenza viruses.
  • Antiviral drugs are effective across all age and risk groups.

Two antiviral drugs (oseltamivir, brand name Tamiflu®, and zanamivir, brand name Relenza®) are approved for treatment of the flu.

  • Oseltamivir is approved to treat flu in people one year of age and older.
  • Zanamivir is approved to treat flu in people 7 years and older.
  • These are prescription medications, and a doctor should be consulted before the drugs are used.
  • Antiviral treatment lasts for 5 days and should be started within 2 days of illness, so if you get flu-like symptoms, seek medical care early on.
Cold and Flu hot spots

Doorknobs, TV remotes are germ hot spots; Cold and Flu sufferers leave remnants of the bug, where it can live for days.

 How Germs Spread

Exposure can come from visiting busy places like work, churches, shopping centers, children and from other adults. Understanding how germs spread is vital to preventing infection. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) There are seven possible ways for the transmission of bacteria and viruses to take place.

1. Indirect contact
Germs are spread between people via an intermediate object, usually something inanimate. Door knobs, phones, computer keyboards, railings, counters, tables, equipment at gyms and other frequently touched objects are common culprits. Cold viruses and germs that cause stomach flu are frequently transmitted through indirect contact. In ideal conditions they can live on these surfaces for up to 5 days!

2. Direct contact
This mode of transmission involves physical contact and generally takes place through shaking hands, touching someone, kissing or intimate activity.

3. Droplet spread
An infectious agent is spread through the air when two people are near each other. It usually takes place when someone coughs, sneezes or talks. This is a common mode of transmission for respiratory diseases such as influenza and RSV (Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus).

4. Fecal-to-oral route
Transmission occurs when an infected person fails to adequately wash their hands after going to the bathroom. The person then goes on to have direct contact with another person, such as shaking hands, or spreads germs through indirect contact by contaminating a door knob or food, for example. Many cases of food poisoning are the result of fecal-to-oral transmission, as is the spread of Hepatitis A.

5. Common-vehicle spread
This form of transmission involves a contaminated, inanimate “vehicle” that spreads germs to several or many people. Examples include a town’s water supply that’s contaminated with diarrhea-causing parasites or packaged foods tainted with salmonella or e coli. Temperature often plays a role in common-vehicle spread since many germs will produce larger amounts of toxin in a warmer, more humid environment, but are kept in check at colder temperatures.

6. Airborne spread
Germs are spread through the air over a distance of several or more feet. The infectious organisms are usually contained in tiny droplets that can remain suspended in air for hours or days. Tuberculosis and anthrax are spread via airborne transmission. Airborne spread can be affected by the speed or direction of air flow – enclosed spaces with poor air circulation are particularly bad. For this reason, airline passengers on extended flights are at a greater risk for airborne illnesses.

7. Vector-borne spread

There are two forms of vector-borne spread. One involves the transfer of germs to a person via the body of another organism, such as contaminated flies. The other form takes place when an infected animal bites a person- for example, when a mosquito transmits west nile or malaria or a tick infects a person with Lyme disease.

New Hot spots for germs

Yes the typical light switch or salt shaker can be a hot spot for germs. Doctors have long advised frequent hand-washing to avoid spreading germs. Wearing surgical masks if you have a weak immune system and using hand sanitizers also can help.

Preventing the Spread of Germs

Here are some simple health tips to help keep respiratory infections and many other contagious diseases from spreading, especially during the final stretch of cough, cold and “flu” season.

Respiratory infections affect the nose, throat and lungs; they include influenza (the “flu”), colds and pertussis (whooping cough) and RSV.  The germs (viruses and bacteria) that cause these infections are spread from person to person in droplets from the nose, throat and lungs of someone who is sick.

You can help stop the spread of these germs by practicing “respiratory etiquette,” or good health manners.

Here are some tips to keep from spreading your germs to others, and to keep from catching someone else’s germs.

Keep your germs to yourself:

  • Cover your nose and mouth, Cough or sneeze into your bent elbow or always us a tissue when sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose.
  • Discard used tissues in the trash as soon as you can.
  • Always wash your hands after sneezing, blowing your nose, or coughing, or after touching used tissues or handkerchiefs. Wash hands often if you are sick.
  • Use warm water and soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizers to wash your hands and after nose contact.
  • See your doctor as soon as you can if you have a cough and fever, and follow their instructions. Take medicine as prescribed and get lots of rest.
  • If asked, use face masks provided in your doctor’s office or clinic’s waiting room. Follow office or clinic staff instructions to help stop the spread of germs.

Keep the germs away:

  • Wash your hands before eating, or touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Wash your hands after touching anyone who is sneezing, coughing or blowing their nose.
  • Don’t share things like towels, lipstick, toys, or anything else that might be contaminated with respiratory germs.
  • Don’t share food, utensils or beverage containers with others.

Decrease your risk of infecting yourself or others and with a little common sense, covering your cough, washing your hands and with these proper health precautions, you can avoid infectious diseases and keep from spreading them.

Information provided by Center for Disease Control. and NM Dept of Health

 Today’s Blog Post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for ENMR·Plateau

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