Reston Hospital Center - November 11, 2019

Protect your family and help stop the spread of illness

Visiting family and friends is an important part of celebrating the holidays. But with air travel, crowds, hugs, handshakes and holding babies, you and your family may be catching or spreading something besides holiday cheer. You may not be able to avoid all the germs, but a few precautions can reduce the risk of illness:

Eat healthily and get plenty of sleep before your trip.

The stress of preparing for the holidays can take its toll and make you more vulnerable to illness. Your immune system will be stronger and better able to fight germs if you’re nourished and well-rested.

Get a flu shot in time.

It takes about two weeks after the shot for your body to build antibodies and protect you from the flu, so make sure your family gets vaccinated well in advance of family gatherings.

Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.

Take at least 30 seconds with soap and water, and do it often. Make sure kids soap up properly. Carrying hand sanitizer can help, but it isn’t effective against some germs. Also, avoid touching your eyes or face (or your child’s) until you’ve just washed your hands.

If you’re sick, stay home.

The last thing you need to give your family or friends is a holiday illness. Also, you’ll rest better at home and avoid exposing yourself to something else while your body is trying to heal.

Stay hydrated.

Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and help your body eliminate toxins. Soft drinks, alcohol and caffeinated beverages aren’t as effective.

Carry disinfectant wipes for surfaces.

Use them to wipe down headrests and tray tables on airplanes, and light switches and other surfaces in hotel rooms. You can also give fast-food restaurant tables a quick wipe and use them in rest areas.

Consider face masks or scarves.

If you’re flying or you know you will be spending time around someone sick, a face mask or scarf over your nose may offer some protection, although it’s not clear how much.

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