Cold and flu germs spread easily from one person to another, especially on dirty hands. This advice can help you avoid a cold, the flu, and many other viruses that affect your lungs:
1. Wash your hands properly and often
Most of us don't pay close attention to how we wash our hands. Handwashing really works, but you have to do it right. It's important to learn the right way to wash your hands- if you miss a step, you may not get all the germs and dirt.
To wash your hands properly
- Take off your jewellery first
- Wash your hands with regular soap and water. You don't need antibacterial soap to remove dirt and germs. In fact, using antibiotics when they aren't needed can lead to antibiotic resistance - that's when germs get stronger and harder to kill.
When to wash your hands
- Before and after you eat
- Before and after you prepare food
- After you use the bathroom or change diapers
- After you blow your nose, sneeze or cough
- Before and after taking care of someone who is sick
2. Cover your coughs and sneezes- cough and sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve
Sneezing and coughing can spread colds, flu, and many other viruses. These viruses live in the saliva and mucus in your nose and throat. When you sneeze and cough, you spray little droplets of saliva and mucus into the air. Other people can breathe in the droplets and get sick. Or the droplets can land on tables, keyboards, books, and other things. When someone touches these things, then touches their face or eyes, they can catch the virus and get sick.
- Cough and sneeze into tissues, throw the tissues away, and wash your hands.
- If you don't have a tissue, turn away from people and cough into your arm or elbow. Do not cover your coughs and sneezes with your hands.
3. Get your flu and pneumonia shots (vaccinations)
Shots (vaccinations) give you the best protection against many diseases, including flu and pneumonia. The Lung Association recommends that:
- Most people over 6 months old should get the flu shot
- Most people with COPD and asthma should also get a pneumonia shot
4. Keep your home and work space clean
Clean your home and work spaces regularly. "Regular" cleaners are best for most homes and workplaces. Do not use antibacterial cleaners. They are not necessary and using them may increase antibiotic resistance.
5. Stay away from sick people
If you have a long-term lung disease like asthma or COPD, you are more at risk for getting a cold or the flu. Cold and flu can make your COPD or asthma symptoms much worse. That's why it's best to stay away from people who are sick.
6. If you yourself are sick, stay away from other people
If you have a contagious sickness like the flu or a cold, do your best to stay away from other people, especially
- Elderly people
- Pregnant women
- Babies and children
- People who are frail or who have a chronic (long-term) disease
- People who have a lung disease like asthma or COPD
7. If you have asthma or COPD, and you get a cold or flu, follow your action plan
If you've caught a cold and you feel your symptoms getting worse, follow your doctor's instructions in your asthma action plan or COPD action plan. You may have to take more medicine or see your doctor to keep your symptoms under control.