“Did you get your flu shot yet?” is a question that you’ll often hear asked around the workplace during the flu season, which begins in October but comes into full swing December to February. Since flu season occurs in the winter, a common misconception is that the illness is caused by cold temperatures. The truth is, the influenza virus is what’s causing the flu, and winter’s lower temperatures are only a contributing factor to becoming ill.
In addition to the cold, many argue that the changes that people have in their lifestyles during winter—such as spending more time indoors with windows sealed—are primary contributing factors. As an employer, aside from having a worksite clinic that gives flu shots, it’s important to let your people know how they can put themselves at risk of the illness as an added measure to help them fight it.
During the flu season, any form of physical contact, including hugging, kissing, and even shaking hands, is an easy way to spread the virus. There’s no need to be anti-social all season long, just be aware of the possibility of transmission, and wash your hands after contact with others.
People have tiny hairs tucked inside the nasal passages and lungs that help trap viruses and dispose of them efficiently to keep them from doing damage. However, smoking can weaken these hairs and lower their effectiveness, which makes it easier for the flu virus to attack the body.
Working out too much
Exercise is good for you, but when you push yourself too hard, you actually subject your body to added physical stress, which may be too much to handle for your immune system especially if you’re not sleeping, hydrating, or eating right. If you exercise in a gym, you should know that there’s a large chance you can catch the flu virus there because of the many people that use their equipment.
Going on a night out at the height of the flu season may have you waking up with more than just a hangover. Just like too much exercise, excessive alcohol drinking also weakens your immune system, which can make it hard for your body to fight off infections until it is able to recover.
It can help to have your onsite nurse inform your employees of these risks as they receive their flu shots.
10 Ways You May Put Yourself at Risk for Flu (Without Realizing It!), Health.com