By Dave McGovern for Active.com
Well, it's November again. Time for newsletter editors everywhere to trot out the same tired old cold-weather training tips articles. But it's not just the start of the cold weather training season - it's also the start of cold and flu season. And if you're confined to bed with a cold or down with a nasty bout of the flu, you won't have to worry about what to wear or what kinds of workouts to do. Because you won't be training.
The average adult catches two to four colds per year. And up to 40 percent of the people in a given community may develop a case of the flu during an epidemic.
Most flu epidemics and most colds happen during the winter months - the so-called cold and flu season - when people spend more time confined together indoors, spreading their germs among themselves. We've known for decades that colds and flu are caused by germs. But short of donning a Hot Zone anti-ebola suit and running for the hills at the first sight of a sniffling child or co-worker, infectous diseases can be hard to avoid this time of year.
And that's why I sit here coughing away with a Walter Matthau nose and a scratchy throat and eyes. I don't have co-workers, and avoid kids like the plague, but I do travel a lot and come into contact with a lot of people when I do. So that hand I shook, doorknob I touched or droplet of sneeze I inadvertantly inhaled and lodged in my mucous membranes wound up slamming me with my first cold of the year - right when I need to start upping my mileage to get ready for World Cup trials in March.
Could it have been avoided? Perhaps. I know all the rules and I'm usually very careful, but maybe I let my guard down. It's not possible to rebuff every handshake, and sometimes I actually have to fly - horror of horrors - in coach.
The UPS Guy hasn't dropped off my Boy in the Plastic Bubble quarantine bubble yet. Until he does, I'm going to have to be very careful and stick to the following guidelines. To lower your risk of getting knocked down with a cold or the flu, so should you.
- If at all possible, avoid close contact with people who have colds or the flu, especially during the first three days when they are most likely to spread the infection.
- Wash your hands after touching the skin of someone who has a cold, or after touching an object that they have touched.
- Keep your fingers away from your nose and eyes.
- Consider getting a flu shot, especially if you come in frequent contact with infected people.
To avoid spreading a cold or flu to others, take these steps:
- Cover your nose and mouth with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze.
- Wash your hands frequently, but especially after coughing or sneezing.
- If possible, stay away from people when you have a cold, especially during the first three days when you are most contagious.
- It's important to drink adequate quantities of liquids, especially water or juices. Staying well-hydrated helps prevent the drying of the lining of the nose and throat, which helps keep the mucus moist and flowing out of the body.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea and colas, as caffeine can lead to dehydration.
- Get plenty of sleep and rest.
- While there is no cure, many medications can help relieve cold and symptoms. These products will not make the cold go away faster, but they can lessen the discomfort caused by the infection, making the illness more bearable