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Avoiding The Flu: 10 Habits You're Guilty Of That Could Make You Sick

Reader's Digest

This year's flu season is not messing around. This year over 100 people have died from the flu, including 20 children and that number keeps rising every day.

"This year's flu season had an early start, with a lot of cases accumulating in the past month and more hospitalizations and deaths in certain regions of the country compared to last year — this is a tough year," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told Buzzfeed.

So it's more important than ever to ensure that we avoid these unhealthy bacteria so they don't end up making us sick this winter.

Here are ten things that you're probably guilty of doing that could make you sick during this flu season.

1. Forgetting to wash your thumbs

While washing your hands may be obvious, many people make the mistake of forgetting to include their thumbs when they're lathering their hands. Washing your hands properly is the first step to making sure you stay healthy this flu season.

2. Putting your bag on the floor

By putting your purse or backpack on the floor you are creating an open invitation for unwelcome bacteria, especially if you rest it on the floor of a bathroom or restaurant.  Often our bags can end up on a counter or table at home, which transfers the unhealthy bacteria to our eating surfaces.

If you've been guilty of doing this, make sure you disinfect the bottoms of your bags so you don't continue to spread the bacertia.

3. Eating lunch at your desk

If your workday is completely packed and you don't have time to get away to eat, many of us will resort to eating our lunch at our desk while we work.

Well, you'll be surprised to know that your desk is 100 time dirtier than the average toilet seat.

Avoid ingesting these germs by cleaning your hands before lunch and eating in the break room instead. What a good excuse to get away from your desk during the work day for a bit.

4. Using your phone in the bathroom

Anything you take into the bathroom will be contaminated with the germs that breed in there. 16% of cellphones have fecal matter on them, according to a study.

Make sure you clean your phone with an alcohol wipe frequently, because whatever touches your hands will likely end up on your phone.

5. Leaving your toothbrush exposed

It's no secret that the bathroom is littered with all sorts of bacteria. From airborne germs after you flush the toilet to soiled tissues and diapers in the trash can, this room is a breeding ground for illness. So why are you leaving your toothbrush to absorb all these germs? Keep your toothbrush covered and sanitize it often to avoid putting these bacteria in your mouth.

6. Not disinfecting handles

Anything that requires many hands touching it becomes a breeding ground for germs. While many of us clean door handles often to avoid the spread of sickness, we often forget to disinfect kitchen handles and knobs as well.

Grab a disinfectant wipe and clean those areas every few days so make sure you aren't spreading bacteria in the kitchen.

7. Wearing your shoes inside

While many of us don't have as big of an issue in the winter, it can often be easier to not bend down to take your shoes off when you enter your house.

"Shoe soles have literally been everywhere and when you wear them inside, you track that onto your floors are carpets," says Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab.

That means your bringing all sorts of outside germs into your home where your family and can kids can pick them up.

8. Skipping yogurt

Research has suggested that the probiotics in yogurt have the potential to fight the flu. A recent study has also suggested that yogurt can help stave off upper respiratory tract infections. Toss a few blueberries on top because dark berries like these are believed to help strengthen your immune system.

9. Not changing your sheets often enough

You spend many hours a week in your bed sheets, so you can imagine how many germs are living there. Wash your sheets at least once every two weeks, if not every week to ensure you aren't haboring any unhealthy bacteria that you are spreading to anyone sleeping in your bed.

"Launder bed sheets, pillowcases, and towels in hot water. Dry them using the antibacterial cycle or the hottest temperature your dryer offers," says Forte.  

10. Skipping the shot

This year especially has been said to be one of the worse flu seasons in a long time. Protect yourself from the virus by getting your flu shot. While the shot is not 100% effective, it is your best defense to avoid getting sick this winter.

"Right now, flu activity is elevated and intense, and the CDC has classified the severity of this year's flu season as moderate," Lynnette Brammer, lead of the CDC's domestic influenza said.

How many of these are you guilty of?

Source: Good Housekeeping