As the chill of winter sets in, so do a few other things. Even the relatively warm winter of Victoria can help viruses take hold of our bodies. As exams approach and Christmas shopping begins, many students and teachers get a little more stressed and a little less sleep, which also weakens their bodies’ natural defences.
Even without getting a vaccination (or sealing yourself in a moveable bubble), there is a lot you can do to prevent you, and the people around you, from getting sick with the flu or a cold.
Wash your hands. The simplest way to protect ourselves from germs is often the most neglected. Hand-washing shouldn’t be reserved for trips to the bathroom, but should be done before touching food and after touching anything from a dog to a used Kleenex. It should also be done properly, with vigorous scrubbing and turning the tap off with the same paper towel you use to dry your hands.
Cover your coughs (but not with your hands). It used to be polite and courteous to place your hand over your mouth while yawning or coughing, but since we tend to touch a lot of things with our hands, it’s now recommended we cough into our elbows.
Don’t share. It isn’t always a kindness to offer your friend a sip of your drink or let everyone take a few carrot sticks off your plate. Germs spread easily through shared food and drinks, as well as other objects. Towels can be big germ spreaders as well as chewed pens, so keep transfers to a minimum.
Stay dry. Our bodies work fairly hard to keep us at a good temperature. Don’t make it harder for them by keeping on damp clothes or going sleeveless when it’s breezy out. Invest in a waterproof jacket and bring an extra sweater for cold classrooms.
If you do come down with the flu, do your fellow students a favour by staying home. You can always catch up on your school work when you’re better. If you have a flu or a cold, the best treatment is rest and fluids. Most flus will pass on their own, but it’s recommended you see a doctor if you get a fever higher than 39 degrees Celsius or your cough lingers for months.