It can be started by the simplest action: Your sister sneezes on her way to the supper table, where she touches the serving spoon to get a second helping of mashed potatoes. Or perhaps children are playing video games and forget to wash their hands before sitting down to eat.  Often, this is the first step to a miserable winter full of sniffles, sore throats and earaches.

While your local ENTs here at Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose and Throat are always here to serve you if you get sick, we believe the best defense is a good offense—in other words, it's best to not get sick at all. Therefore, we've created a list of the top 10 tips for staying healthy during the winter.

 

1. Defend yourself against sneezes.

Of course you've heard it's polite to cover your mouth when you sneeze, but you probably don’t realize how important that is.

Researchers at MIT have discovered that germs from a sneeze travel much farther than originally thought. While larger droplets may be more obvious, these scientists discovered that smaller ones create a "cloud" that is often difficult to see. These clouds can travel far enough to reach an air ventilation system.

Be sure to cover your sneeze and if you’re around someone who fails to do so, kindly hand them a tissue, and then wash your hands or use hand sanitizer at the first available opportunity.

In addition, be aware that sneezing is a symptom of not just the common cold, but a host of allergy problems as well. If sneezing persists, contact one of our ENTs who will be happy to help you discover the cause of your sneeze.

2. Wipe down the items in your house that harbor the most germs.

Clean doorknobs, handles, TV remotes and any video game controllers. All of these surfaces are covered in germs and over the holidays, having additional company only introduces new bacteria to the mix.

Cleaning these surfaces is a good habit to practice year round, and it’s vital if you are caring for a member of your household who is sick.

3. Don’t merely wash your hands---wash them properly.

You should wash your hands with soap and warm water for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday.” The Centers for Disease Control has gone as far to say that handwashing is a “do-it-yourself vaccination.” The CDC has extensive resources and statistics on the importance of washing your hands.

4. Take control during flu season.

Influenza kills thousands of Americans each year. If you haven’t had your vaccination yet, don’t worry. Experts say that as long as the flu is circulating, it is beneficial to get a flu shot. Remember, the flu shot does not cause the flu. Don’t fall for that myth and other misconceptions. The Centers for Disease Control offers extensive information on how to tell flu facts from fiction.

5. If you're sick, stay at home.

You may think your coworkers admire your stamina for coming into work when you have a cold or throat infection. In actuality, they're more concerned about catching the germs themselves and likely don't appreciate you bringing unwelcome bacteria into the office.

If your coworker does come into work sick, make sure you wipe down everything he or she has touched.

6. Avoid touching your nose or mouth.

By touching your nose and mouth---particularly after coming in contact with communal objects such as tables, doorknobs and TV remotes---you're giving viruses and bacteria a beeline to your sinuses. Don’t touch these areas unless you wash your hands first.

7. Do what you can to clear your home of allergens.

If untreated, chronic allergies can lead to problems such as viral or bacterial rhinosinusitis, also known as a sinus infection.

You can clear your home of allergens by eliminating areas where mold breeds, using dust-mite proof mattresses, and making sure that Fido is trimmed and bathed to avoid spreading pet dander.

8. Avoid stress as much as possible.

Stress takes a toll on your body’s immune system and, as a result, makes you more vulnerable to any bacteria.

9. Strengthen your immune system.

While over-the-counter remedies make outlandish claims about boosting your immune system, one of the most effective methods is often overlooked: sleep.

Getting plenty of rest is vital to help your body stay healthy, according to the Cleveland ClinicIf you have trouble sleeping, or if you or your partner snores, set up an appointment with us at Raleigh Capitol ENT. You or your spouse may have sleep apnea, a highly treatable condition.

​​10. Try to avoid crowds.

This is difficult, but whenever possible, try to shop or go to the grocery store during times when the store is the least busy. Even better, take advantage of many of the free pick-up services available, where you can place your orders online and don't even have to go into the store.

 

Staying healthy is a lifelong endeavor

We understand it’s challenging to stay healthy when you are bombarded with allergy problems and sinus infections throughout the year. It’s important to realize that viral infections do NOT require antibiotic treatment, and most people with healthy immune systems will recover on their own with rest and fluids.

While these 10 tips are always useful at any time of year, if you have chronic sinus problems, schedule an appointment with one of our ENTs. Not only will this help you remain healthy, but it will enable you to return to the activities you love. 


Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose, and Throat is the area's premiere physician-owned ENT practice with six convenient locations throughout Wake County. Our board-certified physicians have extensive experience in treating both common and complex cases to help adults and children alike. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us.

 


Sources:

  • Centers for Disease Control. “Stopping the Spread of Germs at Home, Work & School.”

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/stopgerms.htm

  • Centers for Disease Control. “Holiday Health and Safety Tips.” Online.

https://www.cdc.gov/family/holiday/index.htm

  • Centers for Disease Control. “Handwashing.” Online.

https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/index.html

  • Dizikes, Peter. “In the Cloud: How Coughs and Sneezes Float Farther Than You Think.” MIT News. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Online.

http://news.mit.edu/2014/coughs-and-sneezes-float-farther-you-think

  • The Cleveland Clinic. “5 Simple Steps You Can Take to Avoid Germs at the Holidays.” Online.

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/12/5-simple-steps-you-can-take-to-avoid-germs-at-the-holidays/