COLD AND FLU MYTHS AND FACTS
Did you know that most colds are spread through hand contact?
Up to 80% of cold and flu infections are transmitted in this wayii – not through the air-conditioning or by under-dressing on a chilly day as many people believe . The reason we get more colds and flu in winter is simply because we spend more time indoors, passing the cold and flu virus on to each other. When people sneeze, they release thousands of droplets into the air, each containing the flu virus. Usually we catch these droplets in our hands or a tissue in an attempt to prevent the spread of flu.
However, the flu virus can live outside the body for up to 24 hoursii. This means that any surfaces a person touches after sneezing or coughing into their hands can become contaminated with the flu virus. Anyone who later touches that same surface may contract cold and flu.
The impact of cold and flu on families
Since colds are spread mainly through contact, children are especially at risk of picking up cold and flu.
Curious little hands can touch an unbelievable amount of surfaces throughout the day! In fact, families with children can suffer up to 5 more colds annually than families without childreniv.
Each year, this results in an average of 4v missed days of school for children suffering sore throats, fevers, coughs, runny noses and other flu symptoms. It also means time off work for working parents who either need to care for their sick children or who become sick themselves with flu. For some families, the cold season can almost feel like a Merry-Go-Round where kids just seem to get sick over and over again! The entire family routine is then disrupted as the cold or flu spreads throughout the house, and children will need constant care when they are ill.
Tips to help you avoid cold and flu
- Practise good hygiene and teach your children to do the same by using the 3-step Sneezesafe method: catch it, bin it, kill it. Catch your sneeze or cough in a tissue, throw away the tissue immediately, and then wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue handy,sneeze into the inside of your elbow, or use your hands, but make sure you wash them straight away. Children often use their hands or their clothes to wipe their noses, which significantly increases the spread of cold and flu.
- Wash hands often – this ensures you minimise the number of times you pick up any cold and flu germs (or spread them!) throughout the day. Always wash hands before eating, and immediately after coughing or sneezing. If you can’t wash your hands because you’re out and about, use a wet wipe. Kleenex Anti-Bacterial Wipes come in convenient compact packs and will clean your hands and kill 99.9% of germs.
- Always carry tissues – you’ll need some tissues handy to catch those sneezes. Kleenex Pocket Packs are the perfect size to pop in your handbag in case you need to venture out when you’re sick.
- Throw away used tissues – the flu virus can survive outside the body for up to 24 hoursii, which means that picking up another person’s dirty tissues can put you at risk of catching influenza. Bin your tissues as soon as possible to prevent the spread of flu.
- Consider immunisation – ask your GP about getting a flu shot next time you have a check-up. It’s an easy way to protect yourself from colds and flu during the winter months.
- Stay hydrated and eat a well-balanced dietiii – maintaining good general health is your best line of defence when it comes to cold and flu prevention. A strong immune system will mean that when you do become exposed to germs, your body will be able to fight the flu virus.
- Get enough sleep and exercise regularlyii – this will help minimise stress and boost your immune system even further, enhancing your resistance to cold and flu.
- Stay home when you have a coldiii – it can be tempting to send your kids to school or drag yourself to the office when it’s just a “case of the sniffles”. But the best way to prevent the spread of colds is to tuck yourself away when you’re sick.
- Talk to your GP or pharmacist for more information on coping with cold and flu this season.