It's a fact. Unless precautions are taken, Chicago
families will be spreading more than just good cheer and joy this
Confined spaces, dropping temperatures and the stress of
holiday preparations are just some of the factors that make us all
more susceptible to illnesses, like the common cold or the flu,
during the holidays.
If the last thing you want is to send your holiday guests
home with more than just dinner leftovers, WebMD's Cold
and Flu Map is a tool that can help you get a leg up on
which symptoms are hitting your geographic area the hardest - right
down to your zip code.
"The Cold and Flu Map enables you to see a
county-by-county view of mild, moderate or severe cold and flu
symptom levels in your area just by typing in your zip code," said
Dr. Michael Smith, Chief Medical Editor for WebMD. "With this
knowledge, take precautions when in public areas."
If cold and flu symptom levels are high in your area,
Smith offers these additional prevention tips:
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or
Touching surfaces that have the flu virus on it and then
touching your mouth, eyes or nose is a common way that germs
spread. You may also inhale infected droplets in the
air that come from coughing, sneezing or talking.
Wash your hands frequently
The act of rubbing your hands together when washing with
soap and water is what will eliminate germs. And while hand
sanitizer is great, Smith warns not to rely on it as your only
Clean areas you touch often
At the gym, office and grocery store - wipe handles,
railings, keyboard, door knobs and telephone/fax-machine buttons
with anti-bacterial wipes. Don't share pens or pencils and don't
forget to clean your cellphone screen.
Stay home when you are sick
You can remain contagious for up to 5-7 days so avoid
spreading symptoms by limiting your time in public
Get the flu vaccine
"Vaccines are the surest way to prevent the flu," said
Smith. New vaccines are developed to protect against new strains so
be sure to get one every year.
Boost your immune system
Eat a well-rounded, nutritious diet. Drink water to
constantly flush toxins. Avoid stress. Get 7-8 hours of sleep. Quit
Drink hot tea
Steam from hot drinks, such as tea, will stimulate the
hair follicles in the nose to flush germs. Using a little lemon
will help thin the mucus lining.
Jackie is the digital editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Oak Park with her daughter and husband.
See more of Jackie's stories here.
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