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Avoiding the Flu: It Can Spread 6 feet!

By Dr. Carrie Jones Expert HERWriter
 
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Andy Dean Photography/PhotoSpin

Chances are this winter season you, your family, your friends and co-workers have already contracted the flu and are over the worst of it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this season has been one of the worst in several years. Many, even with the flu vaccine, are seeking treatment with their health care provider.

Unfortunately, new research demonstrates that the flu virus can travel up to six feet simply from talking and breathing.

Historically, the flu virus is thought to spread only over short distances and with coughing and sneezing in the release of larger respiratory droplets.

This of course makes it important to wear a mask when sick, cover your nose when you cough or sneeze (preferably with your arm, not your hands) and use tissues.

With this new information that the virus can move more than a foot or two, it becomes critically important that hygiene and health practices take an even larger role.

First, if you are sick, feeling down, experiencing chills and a fever, coughing, sneezing, difficulty swallowing with congested sinuses and ears -- please stay home.

Unless you are running to your health care provider’s office for help or the local pharmacy for treatment and tissue -- the public does not want to become sick. Do not try to muster through it because you will end up feeling worse and infecting those around you.

Second, sanitize yourself. Wash your hands frequently or use antibacterial germ lotion.

Remember to wipe down everything. This includes your cell phone, your steering wheel, your desk, keyboard, counters, your iPod and iPad and whatever else your hands come in contact with.

Many grocery stores are offering antibacterial wipes to swipe the handle of the shopping cart before use which can help reduce infection as well.

Third, take care of yourself. The flu season usually hits during a stressful time of year (think -- holidays) when the weather is colder, darker and wetter and dietary/exercise habits may be more in “hibernation” instead of keeping healthy.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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