Emory Report
November 5, 2007
Volume 60, Number 10

Taking some simple steps will help you and your family stay healthy and enjoy the months to come.

Remember, to stay healthy:

• Wash your hands often and well. If soap and water are not available, you can rub your hands with alcohol-based gels.

• Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

• Keep doctor-recommended vaccinations up to date.

• Get your yearly flu shot early in time to protect you.

• Stay home when you are sick and check with a health care provider when needed.

• Eat right, get enough sleep and exercise regularly to help strengthen your immune system and fight sicknesses

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November 5, 2007
Steps you can take to stay healthy this year

Susan M. Grant is chief nursing officer, Emory Healthcare, and assistant dean for clinical leadership, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.

Each year, from late fall through winter, the number of cold and flu cases in the U.S. climbs dramatically.
When you’re sick, each cough or sneeze can propel droplets laden with microbes into the surrounding air. These droplets can travel as far as 3 feet. Anyone in around this environment may be at risk for infection. That’s why covering your mouth and nose — with a tissue, the crook of your elbow or even your hand — is the frontline on preventing transmission of germs.

Microbes can survive outside the body, too. Some can live for two hours or more on doorknobs, faucets, keyboards and other surfaces. If you touch a germ-covered surface and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you increase your chance of getting infected and getting sick.

An easy and effective way to prevent the spread of germs is to wash your hands often and well. Regular soaps are effective, both in blocking germ-related disease symptoms and in reducing the amount of bacteria measured on hands.

A good way to back up soap and water to clean your hands is the use of alcohol-based gels, or hand sanitizers. These alcohol-based hand rubs significantly reduce the number of germs on skin.

Another important way to stay healthy during the cooler months is vaccination.

Getting a flu vaccine each fall is the single best way to prevent the flu. Influenza is a highly contagious infection that causes fever, chills, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, as well as headache, muscle aches and extreme fatigue.

Flu viruses change all the time. For this reason, you need to get a flu shot every year. To give your body time to build the proper defense, it’s important to get a flu shot as early as you can, before the flu season usually starts.

Although side effects from the flu shot are slight for most people, some soreness, redness or swelling may occur on the arm where the shot was given. About 5 percent to 10 percent of people have mild side effects such as headache or low-grade fever, which last for about a day after vaccination.

Flu vaccines can be given as a shot or a nasal spray. Both methods provide protection against strains of flu experts predict are going to be the most common this winter.

Emory University and Emory Healthcare have many ways to obtain free or low-cost flu shots. Emory University is offering flu vaccines at various times and locations, including the Grady, Yerkes and Briarcliff campuses. Contact the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program at 404-727-4328 for details. In addition, Emory Healthcare is offering flu shots in 10 locations (listed at www.eushc.org).