Most of us have experienced the flu at some time or another. We recognize it from the feelings of stuffy noses, weak and sore muscles, fevers, headaches and sometimes vomiting . It can take anywhere from a week to several weeks to overcome a severe bout of influenza.
While we recover -- indeed before we may even know we have it -- we may be giving it to others.
The etiquette surrounding the flu is not always adhered to. But here are some reasons why we need to be really careful not to pass on an unwelcome gift in the season of giving.
Etiquette expert Anna Post of the Emily Post Institute gives us some great advice on making smart decisions during the flu season. She advises that flu is contagious from up to six feet away, and even actions like speaking can spread it from several feet.
Going to holiday parties when ill and having to cancel at the last minute is far more polite than it is rude. We never know who is pregnant, who has a compromised immune system from various conditions, or if there will be elderly or infants at the party.
She says it's also a good idea to cancel a party, no matter how far the planning went. Risking the health of others to throw your annual bash isn't okay, no matter how disappointing it may be for you or others.
Sharing foods, glasses (or the hilarious "double dipping" that George Costanza was found guilty of in an episode of Seinfeld) or even passing gifts when ill, are good ways to pass on germs.
Recently on a very long trip, I washed down my tray, seat handles, seat belt and the remote control with sanitizing wipes. I got a few looks from some and a couple of chuckles from others.
But I have a compromised immune system so this is something I do anytime I travel, as well as stay well away from the blankets and pillows that look clean but are often unwashed from several flights despite being wrapped in plastic, giving the impression that they are healthy to use.
I can't take chances others may be able to!
Asking obviously ill seat mates to cover their coughs can be a bit awkward but not impolite, says Anna Post, and we should provide the same courtesy ourselves.