Help Yourself Avoid Getting Sick this Winter

by Dr. Hojat Askari, Founder and Medical Director, Thumb Butte Medical Center

Winter months are trying on your health because you’re indoors more — where viruses pass more easily between people — and cold, dry air can weaken your resistance to whatever is floating around.

So, never underestimate the simple tactic of washing your hands.

You know about lathering, scrubbing rinsing, drying — and singing “Happy Birthday” or counting out 20 seconds, but here are key wash times.

Before, During, After

  • Preparing food

Before, After

  • Eating food
  • Caring for someone sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Treating a cut, wound

After

  • Using the toilet
  • Changing diapers; cleaning a child who has used the toilet
  • Blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing
  • Touching an animal, animal feed, animal waste
  • Handling pet food, pet treats
  • Touching garbage

Further avoid catching or spreading germs by staying away from people who are sick, and stay home when you’re sick. Use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. And though it’s far from easy because we unthinkingly do this, refrain from touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

It’s beneficial to frequently clean and disinfect surfaces touched at home, work or school, especially when someone is sick.

Those more vulnerable to the effects of cold weather include: people 65 and older; babies and children younger than 5; people who can’t afford heating; people with a long-term health condition or disability; pregnant women; and people with a mental health condition.

Be on the lookout for colds, flu, gastroenteritis, bronchitis and pneumonia. If you feel unusually fatigued, congested or nauseated, you may be experiencing one of these common winter conditions.

Remember, plenty of sleep, physical activity, stress management and eating nutritious food and drinking plenty of fluids all play significant roles in keeping you healthy now or any time of year.