The holiday season is upon us! It’s an exciting time of year for everyone in the office, from executives to rank-and-file employees—and for good reason. From the festivities to the food, there are many reasons to love the holidays. Unfortunately, the holiday season coincides with flu season. As such, it is important to help your employees avoid contracting influenza as best you can.
One of the reasons why the flu is rampant during the holidays is because lower air temperatures cause our immune systems to weaken a bit. Apart from the weather factor, there are several other factors that may contribute to the increased risk of coming down with the flu. With that in mind, you may want to increase awareness among your employees by reminding them that the following factors increase their flu risk:
Smoking Tobacco Products
Smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products is linked to an increased risk of coming down with the flu. Smokers may like to have a cigarette in an effort to keep warm when the temperature dips or after a filling meal. Unfortunately, smoking weakens the disease-fighting hairs in the nose and lungs, making it easier for the flu virus to get past your body’s defenses. To make things worse, the lung damage caused by cigarette smoke increases the risk of contracting complications like pneumonia.
Washing Hands Incorrectly
Proper hand-washing is one of the best ways to fight the flu (aside from getting flu shots for work). Sadly, studies have shown that a large number of people do not wash their hands properly—if at all—after coughing or sneezing. Health experts recommend washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with anti-bacterial soap.
Sometimes, proper hand-washing is eliminated for the use of hand gel. In such cases, make sure that any hand gel dispensers you have around the office contain at least 60 percent alcohol, ethanol, or isopropanol. Despite this, nothing beats proper hand washing, so encourage employees to do so.
Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Having a little too much to drink during the holidays is more problematic than just a hangover the next morning. Consuming too much alcohol significantly weakens the immune system for at least 24 hours, increasing your risk of infection. This is because alcohol dehydrates the body, inhibiting the nose and throat’s ability to trap microbes.
By adhering to the things mentioned above, you can significantly reduce your (and your employee’s) chances of coming down with the flu. For an extra layer of protection, however, you may want to consider sponsoring on-site employee flu shots from an occupational healthcare provider like U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group.
Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs, cdc.gov
10 Ways You May Put Yourself at Risk for Flu (Without Realizing It!), health.com