Sara Savatssavat@slu.edu 314.977.8018
Surviving the Cold, Winter MonthsSLU Physician Offers 8 Tips for Staying HealthyGillian Stephens, M.D., SLU family physician, offers 8 tips for staying healthy this winter<p>ST. LOUIS - Staying healthy during the cold winter months is no easy task. The dry winter air coupled with spending more time indoors creates a perfect opportunity for germs and viruses to spread. Preventing illness is especially important this year, in light of the H1N1 outbreak. </p><p>According to Gillian Stephens, M.D., medical director of the <a href="http://www.slu.edu/x32722.xml">SLU Medical Home</a>, a new primary care program for SLU employees and their dependents, there are many precautions you can take to stay healthy this winter.</p><table cellpadding="3" width="180" align="right" bgcolor="#ffffff" border="0" valign="top"><tbody><tr><td><img src="http://www.slu.edu/pr/images/GStephens_175.jpg" border="1" /></td></tr><tr><td><font face="Arial,Helvetica" color="#666666" size="1">Gillian Stephens, M.D.</font></td></tr></tbody></table><p>1.<strong> Keep your distance</strong> - While spending more time indoors, try to keep some distance -- especially if you're not feeling well. Cold and flu germs are spread through water droplets from your mouth and nose. By staying three to six feet away from friends and family- especially those who appear to be sick - you can decrease your risk of getting sick. Most importantly, avoid close face-to-face contact. </p><p>Flu germs also can live on many surfaces for up to 48 hours, so beware of common shared items such as the telephone, remote control, door handles and utensils. </p><p>2. <strong>Wash your hands frequently</strong> - The best cold and flu is the one you never catch. To avoid getting sick, frequently wash your hands with warm water and soap or hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your eyes and nose. Stephens recommends carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket for convenience. </p><p>Hand sanitizing is especially important for small children who tend to put things in their mouths and touch each other. </p><p>3. <strong>Stay home if you're sick</strong> - Do yourself and those around you a favor and stay home when you're not feeling well. While it's probably safe to go out with a slight cold, Stephens recommends staying home if you have symptoms such as a sore throat, runny nose, coughing, or if you have a fever or body aches. </p><p>4. <strong>Sleep </strong>- Even missing an hour or two of sleep per night can wear down your immune system and increase your stress levels making you more susceptible to germs. </p><p>5. <strong>Maintain a healthy diet</strong> - Your diet directly affects your immune system. Make sure to eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and protein. </p><p>6. <strong>Keep hydrated</strong> - Cold, dry air will dry out your mucus membranes, breaking down your natural barrier to infection. To avoid getting sick, make sure to drink plenty of water, especially when traveling. </p><p>7. <strong>Exercise</strong> - Regular exercise will help you keep off the weight and provide a great stress relief. Make exercise a family event by taking a group walk or playing a game of basketball. </p><p>Gillian Stephens, M.D., is medical director of the SLU Medical Home. Located at the Doctors Office Building, the SLU Medical Home will combine the talents of a team of health care experts from different disciplines, who work together to keep patients healthy. For information, call (314) 977-3500 or click <a href="http://www.slu.edu/x32722.xml">here</a>. </p>
Gillian Stephens, M.D.
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