3 simple things you can do to avoid the flu

Whether at home or at work, follow these tips to stay healthy this winter.

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Woman holding teacup in bed

Photo, Jovo Jovanovic/Stocksy Images.

Take a sick day

Last year, the flu killed 258 people and sent 3,720 to hospital — in Ontario alone. Still, past studies show Canadians are reluctant to stay home no matter how horrible they feel: Almost 80 percent of us have gone to work while ill (46 percent of women cite guilt as the reason they don’t call in sick). This is bad because of the contagion factor (you’re germy for up to seven days after symptoms show up) and because lack of rest makes you sicker for longer.

Stay in bed if you have a temperature of 38C (100F), says Susan Poutanen,a microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. “You should also stay home if you develop a runny nose, a sore throat, chills, aches or a cough — some of the first signs of the flu.”

Three steps to avoid the flu

1. Sleep more: Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say less than seven hours makes you almost three times more likely to catch a cold. Stick to a strict sleep schedule and do whatever it takes, whether that’s wearing an eye mask or switching on a fan, to help you fall asleep faster.

2. Beware the break room: It’s the most infected area at work, say researchers at the University of Arizona. Highly contaminated spots include doorknobs, copy-machine buttons, coffee-pot handles and sink tap handles.

3. Wash, rinse, repeat: A study in the American Journal of Infection shows the flu virus lives on hands and surfaces for up to 10 minutes—and most people touch
their faces once every three minutes. The best defence is to wash hands frequently, lathering up for 20 seconds each time.