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Don't Let the Flu Get You: Tips for Staying Healthy This Winter

Jan 06, 2010

The cold weather is here, and with it comes runny noses and lasting coughs. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that up to 20 percent of U.S. residents could get the seasonal flu this year.

“During the winter months, our exposure to viruses increases, especially for seniors,” said Dheeraj Mahajan, M.D., C.M.D., geriatrics medical director at Weiss Memorial Hospital and clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “Each year, about 20,000 people are hospitalized for complications relating to the flu. Taking precautions early can help prevent illness.”

So don’t let Jack Frost nipping at your nose lead to catching a cold this winter. Follow these healthful hints from the experts at Weiss Memorial Hospital to stay healthy this year.

  • Take a Multivitamin: If you aren’t already taking one, start adding a daily vitamin to your regimen. Increasing your intake of vitamin C, zinc and vitamin D can help improve your immune system fight off infection. A recent study found people who take zinc are only half as likely to have cold symptoms after a week.
  • Wash Your Hands: You’ve heard it again and again, but washing your hands is one of the most important measures to take in preventing illness. Wash with soap and warm water and scrub for 20 seconds or the length of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” 
  • Get Plenty of Rest: As the days get darker, your body will naturally crave more sleep, and a good night’s rest is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Sleep is restorative and helps to build a strong immune system.
  • Keep Moving: Just because old man winter locked you inside doesn’t mean you have to stop moving. Walk on the treadmill, pop in an exercise video or join a new exercise group. As few as 10 minutes a day can better your health.