Saturday, May 02, 2009

You Swine

Everyone has been talking about the swine flu recently, so much so that I'm getting a little more weirded out everyday. Just today, at Tampines 1, a lady sneezed without covering her mouth, and I quickly held my breath and stopped in my tracks.

I'm supposed to go to Phuket next thursday for some R&R but I'm having second thoughts now. I've been very susceptible to flu this year, so you can't blame me for being so paranoid?

Anyways, here's an article I read in Reader's Digest on 23 ways to avoid colds and flus. I know this is pertaining to just normal colds, not like the swine flu, but still there are some useful facts I think everyone should know.

23 Ways to Avoid Colds and Flus

1. Wash your hands and wash them often.

The US Naval Health Research Center conducted a study of 40,000 recruits who were ordered to wash their hands five times a day. The recruits cut their incidence of respiratory illnesses by 45 percent.

Get smart about hand-drying in public toilets.

Studies find a shockingly large percentage of people fail to wash their hands after using a public toilet. And every single one of them touches the door handle on the way out. So after washing your hands, use a paper towel to turn off the tap. Use another paper towel to dry your hands and then open the door with that paper towel as a barrier between you and the handle. -----------------Not sure if I'll do this. Abit kiasu!!!

3. Prevention is key. Get a flu shot every year.

The best prevention strategy for influenze is to get an annual vaccination. According to the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, the vaccine is particularly important for people at risk of serious complications from the flu. This includes healthcare workers, people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, kidney problems or heart disease, people aged over 65 and pregnant women. People whose immune systems are weakened through illness or medication should also ask their doctor about getting the shot.

4. Carry hand sanitiser with you.

Colds are typically passed not from coughing or kissing (although those are two modes of transmission) but from hand-to-hand-to-object contact, since more cold viruses can live for hours on objects.

5. Wash your hands twice every time you wash them.

When researchers at Columbia University looked for germs on volunteers' hands, they found one handwashing had little effect, even when using antibacterial soap. So wash twice if you're serious about fending off colds.

6. Change toothbrushes every three months.

You think your toothbrush gets your teeth clean - and it does. But once you've finished brushing, it can be a breeding ground for germs. Most dentists recommend you change your brush every two to three months. It's also a good idea to replace it after you've had a cold or flu to prevent reinfection.

7. Put a box of tissues wherever people sit.

Buy multipacks of tissue boxes and strategically place them around the house, your workplace, your car. Don't let aesthetics thwart you. You need tissues widely available so that anyone who has to cough or sneeze or blow his nose will do so in the way least likely to spread germs.

8. Stop blaming yourself when things go wrong.

Believe it or not, blaming yourself makes you more likely to catch a cold! Researchers found that even those who had control over their work were more likely to begin sneezing if they lacked confidence or tended to blame themselves when things went wrong. Such attitudes make people more stressed on the job, and stress, as you know, can challenge your immune system. ----------------I think this should be do not sweat the small stuff. Try not to stress yourself. I mean you don't only get stressed at work right? Other stuff like relationships, friendships etcera etcera. I say take it easy and enjoy life as its meant to.

9. Use your knuckles to rub your eyes.

It's less likely to be contaminated with viruses than your fingertip. This is particularly important given that the eye provides a perfect entry point for germs, and the average person rubs his eyes or nose or scratches his face 20-50 times a day, notes Jordan Rubin, Ph.D., author of the book The Maker's Diet.

10. Sit in a sauna once a week.

Why? Because an Austrian study published in 1990 found that volunteers who frequently used a sauna had half the rate of colds during the six-month study period than those who didn't use a sauna at all. It's possible that the hot air you inhale kills cold viruses. Most gyms have saunas these days.

11. Use a humidifier.

Dry air provides the perfect environment for cold viruses to thrive, which is one reason why colds are so much more common in cooler weather. And when your mucous membranes dry out, your nose and throat are more prone to irritation. Use a room humidifier, but make sure you change the water daily and clean it every few days.

12. Speaking of which, buy a hygrometer.

These little tools measure humidity. You want your home to measure around 50 percent. A consistent measure higher than 60 percent means mold and mildew may start to set in your walls, fabrics, and kitchen; lower than 40 percent and the dry air makes you more susceptible to germs.

13. Take a garlic supplement every day.

When 146 volunteers received either one garlic supplement a day or a placebo for 12 weeks between November and February, those taking the garlic were not only less likely to get a cold, but if they did catch one, their symptoms were less intense and they recovered faster.

14. Once a day, sit in a quiet, dim room, close your eyes, and focus on one word.

Meditate. It's a proven way to reduce stress. Studies have shown that stress increases your susceptibility to colds. In fact, people with high stress levels have up to twice the number of colds as non-stressed people.

15. Get moving.

Ride a bike, join a dance class, go for a walk. A 2006 study found that older women who did 45 minutes of moderate exercise, five times a week for a year, were up to three times less likely to get a cold than the more sedentary women. The researchers found that the exercisers' immunity was strongest in the last three months of the study.

16. Eat a container of yoghurt every day.

A study from the University of California-Davis found that people who ate one cup of yogurt -- whether live culture or pasteurized -- had 25 percent fewer colds than non-yogurt eaters. Start your yogurt eating in the summer to build up your immunity before cold and flu season starts.

17. Leave the windows in your house open a crack.

Not all of them, but one or two in the rooms in which you spend the most time. This is particularly important if you live in a newer home, where fresh circulating air has been the victim of energy efficiency. A bit of fresh air will do wonders for chasing out germs.

18. Sneeze and cough into your arm or tissue.

Whoever taught us to cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze got it wrong. That just puts the germs right on our hands, where you can spread them to objects -- and other people. Instead, hold the crook of your elbow over your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough if a tissue isn't handy. It's pretty rare that you shake someone's elbow or scratch your eye with an elbow, after all.

19. Changing childcare centres.

Find a smaller childcare centre. Using one where there are six children or fewer is a proven way to reduce exposure to germs. Many parents catch colds from their kids and children get far more colds than adults - up to ten each year.

20. Scrub under your fingernails every night.

They're a great hiding place for germs.

21. Don't pressure your doctor for antibiotics.

Colds and flu (along with most common infections) are caused by viruses, so antibiotics -- designed to kill bacteria -- won't do a thing. They can hurt, however, by killing off the friendly bacteria that are part of our immune defenses. If you've used antibiotics a lot lately, consider a course of probiotics -- replacement troops for friendly bacteria.

At the very first hint of a cold, launch the following preventive blitz.

Here's how:
  • Suck on a zinc lozenge until it melts away. Then suck another every two waking hours. Or use a zinc-based nasal spray such as Zicam.

  • Take one 250-milligram capsule of the herb astragalus twice a day until you are better.

  • Cook up a pot of chicken soup.

  • Roast garlic in the oven (drizzle whole clove with olive oil, wrap in tinfoil, roast for an hour at 400°F), then spread the soft garlic on toast and eat.
Studies find that all either reduce the length of time you suffer with a cold or help prevent a full-blown cold from occurring.

23. Change or wash your hand towels every three to four days during cold and flu season.

When you wash your towels, make sure to use hot water in order to kill the germs.

So there you have it, 23 tips to avoid the flu/cold. I learnt alot from this article, hope this helps you too!

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