Winter is coming

L&S_Cold and Flu

How to avoid getting the flu this year

By Sophie Isbister, Life & Style Editor

It can’t be all about pumpkin spice lattes and falling leaves forever. Autumn will soon depart, and as winter prepares to embrace us in her icy grip, the threat of cold and flu season looms over Douglas College students. After all, who wants to get sick when it might mean having to delay an exam or an essay? A poorly timed, nasty bug can really throw a wrench in your semester, so read on dear reader to find out some ways to avoid getting sick in the first place.

Vaxx up! The flu vaccine is available soon, and it’s your first line of defence to avoid a debilitating flu. The flu vaccine is safe and recommended by medical professionals, and no, it won’t make you sick. You are still susceptible to the flu for a few weeks after you get vaccinated, so make sure to get your shot as soon as possible. The vaccine is especially important if you work with vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, and the immuno-compromised.

Wash your hands. The best defence against the cold and flu viruses is judicious hand-washing. Scrub with warm water and soap for 30 seconds, and do it often. Before eating, after eating, between classes—really, whenever you think of it, and especially after you come in contact with someone who has the sniffles. Viruses like the cold and flu are spread through touching, but that doesn’t mean you need to avoid handshakes; just make sure you’re washing regularly, or using an alcohol-based sanitizer if you can’t get to a sink.

Wipe it down! Cold and flu germs can be found on things you wouldn’t always think of. If you carry a cloth purse or a laptop bag, swap it out for something leather or vinyl that you can wipe down occasionally. Sanitize cooking and eating surfaces in your home, as well as high-traffic touching areas like doorknobs, light switches, and keyboards. This is especially important after opening your home up to guests.

Don’t share. Thanksgiving may be the time of year for sharing, and Christmas may have you filled with the giving spirit, but make sure you’re not picking up more than you bargained for at the annual staff party. Avoid swapping bodily fluids with others; this includes sharing drinks, sharing food, and sharing intimate moments under the mistletoe.

Stay home. If you do get sick, please stay home! If you must venture out, observe coughing and sneezing etiquette: cough into the crook of your arm and not into your hand or on other people, wash your hands even more frequently than usual, avoid touching your face and nose, and dispose of used Kleenex properly and promptly. If you have people coming to take care of you, make sure you (or they) sanitize the doorknobs and surfaces in your sick room.

In addition to the above tips, it’s a good idea to keep your immune system and general health in tip-top shape during cold and flu season. Get plenty of water, enough rest, and try to avoid stress. If you feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to reach out for help to the college’s counselling services for support during this busy and stressful time of year.