Along with the excitement of the holiday season, another one of your “not so favorite” times of the year has arrived. The cold and flu season is here. When a family member brings home germs from school, work or from just being out and about, the germs seem to go round and round until they’ve hit everyone in the family.
The main way colds and flu are spread is from person to person through coughs and sneezes. This can happen when germs from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air and come in contact with people nearby. Germs can also can spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk and then touches his or her own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands. Some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces and objects we handle every day.
One of the best ways to prevent colds and flu this season is to keep away from the germ “hot spots” where you are most likely to pick up the germs that cause colds and flu.
Here are the most common germ “hot spots” to look out for:
Germs in Popular Public Places
One out of every five surfaces in places like airports, shopping centers, offices and day care centers is contaminated. This is according to researchers at the University of Arizona, who tested over 800 public surfaces in four U.S. cities. The top ten germ infested public places are:
- Public Handrails
- Shopping Cart Handles
- Bus rails/armrests
- Public bathrooms
- Escalator handrails
- Chair armrests
- Vending machine buttons
- Shared pens
- Public telephones
Germs in Your “Home Sweet Home”
Scientists at the University of Virginia tested surfaces in the homes of people with colds and found that refrigerator door handles and TV remotes were likely to carry cold germs about 40 percent of the time.
Other common germ “hot spots” in the home are:
- Light switches
- Bathroom faucets
- Dishwasher handles
Germs in Pediatricians’ Offices
In a separate study, researchers from the University of Virginia tested the toys in offices of five pediatricians in Virginia three times during last year’s cold and flu season. In the “sick child” waiting room, cold viruses were found on 20 percent of toys. In addition, cold viruses were found on 30 percent of toys reserved for “give-a-ways” for children who were well behaved during their visit.
Germs on Computer Keyboards and Mice
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in January that outbreaks of the norovirus, which accounts for more than 90 percent of stomach flu outbreaks in the United States each year, have been linked to contaminated computer keyboards and mice.
Another study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology also found germs were common on computer keyboards. In the study, 25 computers from the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) burn intensive care unit, cardiothoracic intensive care unit and 6 nursing units were tested for bacteria. The researchers found that every computer keyboard was contaminated with two or more microorganisms.
How Can You Avoid Disease-Causing Germs?
Of course we can’t avoid touching most of the items mentioned above. In fact, most Americans touch about 300 different surfaces every 30 minutes. So most importantly, washing your hands frequently — especially before eating, touching your mouth, eyes or nose, and after coming home from a public place, is the best defense. You should also carry a hand sanitizer and use it frequently, especially if you don’t have the option to immediately wash your hands when coming in to contact with germs.
You should also disinfect surfaces in your home and office that are touched frequently. Wipe down appliance handles, computer keyboards, doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, etc. and kill germs that may be passed along.
If you keep these germs at bay, you and your family might just be able to make it through the flu season without getting sick.
It’s also important to keep your immune system healthy and strong, so it can ward off the germs that you come in to contact with everyday. Our Healthy Choice Naturals Immune Essentials is a comprehensive immune system formula containing 20 all natural vitamins and herbs, specifically formulated to support your body with the nutritional support it needs during cold and flu season.
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