Beat the Winter Flu

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By Christopher Sedlacek
Ah, wintertime. The time of year when families get together, exchange presents, bake cookies, sing Christmas carols, and throw parties. It is also the time of year when viruses and germs ravage. Nobody likes to be sick, especially during this time of joy and happiness. Unfortunately, however, the human body is most susceptible to illnesses in the winter. The cold, stagnant weather of winter provides the perfect environment for viruses to flourish, while at the same time weakening several aspects of our immune system. If you would like to increase your chances of staying healthy this winter, follow some of these easy tips below.
You’ve heard these pieces of advice a thousand times, but they are even more important to consider during the winter: wash your hands and keep them away from your face! During a time when viruses can live on surfaces for twice as long as usual, there is a likely chance that after touching an everyday object, say, a door handle, that you made contact with thousands of germs and viruses that have the ability to make you sick. Then, by touching your face, you are giving them a free entry into your body where they can pillage your insides.
In winter, people tend to spend more time inside, which means they spend more time around other people. When kept in such close confines on a daily basis, viruses and infections spread much easier. Most are spread by the “aerosol effect,” or the passage of germs and viruses from one person to another through the air. In other words, when someone close to you coughs or sneezes, a bombardment of germs take to the air, and all it takes is for you to inhale some—meaning, millions—of them. To reduce the passage of infections through the air, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze by using your arm. Not your hand! Your arm!
The human body likes to be at a certain temperature, and so does your immune system. When one’s body temperature begins to lower, the effectiveness of their immune system begins to lower as well. Shivering actually depresses the immune system, and hinders its ability to keep us healthy. So stay warm! When walking to school from the bus stop, parking lot, or train station, wear something warm. Humans lose up to 30 percent of their body heat through the head, so a hat is essential. Remember, every time your teeth begin to chatter, your immune system starts to fight a losing battle.
Fenwick High School nurse Mrs. Donna Pape has preached this tidbit of advice since the first day of school, and it is still important now. Staying nourished is a must during this time of increased sickness. When we eat three hearty meals a day, we are giving out immune systems the energy it needs to fight off infections. In addition to this, it is essential to stay hydrated. Most doctors recommend drinking about 8 cups of water a day, and during the winter this couldn’t be more important. Drinking water helps the kidney function properly and flush about toxins from our body before they do any harm to us.
During the holidays and the time leading up to them, the amount of sleep people get decreases. Whether it is a large workload or simply staying up later because there is no school the next day, people just don’t sleep as much. The opposite should be happening. When your body is asleep, it can work on repairing itself and fight off any infections or viruses you may have contracted during the day. Go to bed when you feel tired, and sleep until you do not have to force yourself to wake up, and you can ensure you are giving your body the rest it needs.
Finally, if you feel yourself getting sick, stay home and away from others. Trust me, I’m sure your friends will be thankful you stayed home. Moreover, some studies have shown that exercise can help kickstart the body’s immune system, and can cause the release of hormones that aid in the fight against infections. If you are feeling up to it, get moving and go for a short run, either inside or bundle up accordingly, of course.
These are just a few tips that can lead to a healthier winter. If followed, they will decrease the chance of you coming down with an illness. Have a healthy and happy winter Friars!

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