Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs

From the CDC and

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. There also are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent flu.

  1. Avoid close contact.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

  1. Stay home when you are sick.

If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.

  1. Cover your mouth and nose.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

  1. Clean your hands.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

  1. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

  1. Practice other good health habits.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

A article by Sallie Jimenez focused on item #4 and shared a study concluding that hand washing decreases chances for the illness to result in deaths. Jimenez writes that “In the midst of what may be one of the worst flu outbreaks in a decade, new research reinforces the importance of proper hand hygiene protocol.”

Her article references the following: A study published in the February issue of the American Journal for Infection Control found hand washing saves lives — not just in hospitals — but all healthcare facilities, including nursing homes. Researchers looked at 26 French nursing homes from April 1, 2014, to April 1, 2015, discovering consistent measures encouraging staff and visitors to wash their hands reduces mortality and antibiotic prescription rates, according to a news release from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology highlighting the results.

During the course of the study, which included 13 nursing homes randomly assigned to an intervention group and 13 assigned to a control group, a program was implemented targeting nursing home staff, visitors and outside care providers, the news release said.

As part of the program, hand sanitizer became more readily available in both pocket-sized containers and dispensers and the idea of proper hand hygiene was promoted through posters, events, work groups and education.

“The measures resulted in a lower mortality rate of 2.10 deaths per 100 residents, versus 2.65 in the control group, with a notable 30% decrease in the mortality rate during France’s major influenza outbreak in early 2015, according to the news release.”

Although the CDC stresses the single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated, proper hand washing and cleansing — either with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available — also is recommended.



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