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Healthy Tahoe: A glance at infection prevention

“Cold, flu, and COVID season” is upon us, and while these illnesses are more common in the winter months, it’s not the diseases’ virology which makes them more prominent this time of year. Instead, it’s a combination of colder weather driving people indoors and holiday-related gatherings of people.

Some people consider a winter “cold” inevitable, but there are things you can do to protect yourself and others from infection, including:

1.Clean your hands often. Washing hands can keep you healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections from one person to the next.



2.Stay at home if you are sick. While daily tasks are important, the smart and responsible thing to do when you’re feeling unwell is to stay at home, especially during the cold/ flu season and COVID-19 pandemic.

Consider staying home if a member of your household is sick



3.Keep personal items to yourself. Germs can spread from person to person via contaminated surfaces like razors, toothbrushes, cups/ drinks, and lip gloss.

4.Take your MEDS: Meditate, Exercise, Diet, and Sleep. A healthy immune system plays a vital role in protecting your body from harmful germs.

5.Cover your coughs and sneezes. Cough or sneeze into your elbow, or cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

6.Practice food safety: clean, separate, cook, chill. Feasting with family is part of many holiday celebrations; ensure food safety to prevent food poisoning.

7.Get some fresh air. Sunlight can boost your vitamin D production and immunity, in addition to regulating your body’s internal clock, leading to improved sleep.

8.Keep your environment clean. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with viruses.

9.Get vaccinated. Both flu and COVID-19 vaccines are readily available. Vaccines reduce illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school, as well as prevent flu or COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths.

10.Keep yourself hydrated and skin moisturized. Your skin acts as a natural barrier to pathogens (germs/ bacteria), and your immune system needs your bloodstream, which is made up largely of water, to transport essential elements to your organs.

Getting sick is a miserable experience, plus you may spread the illness to others with a weakened immune system—this winter, practice healthy habits to take care of you and your family’s health.

Jake Vinocur, MS, CIC is the manager of infection prevention at Barton Health. Learn more about the importance of flu and COVID vaccines at BartonHealth.org/Flu.

A man uses hand sanitizer and wears a protective face mask at home.
Getty Images

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