Beat the Winter Bugs

Every winter, millions of us develop colds, flu and viral stomach problems.

So why does winter makes us ill? And what can we do to protect ourselves against these normally routine illnesses that can wreck- havoc in the home and workplace and cost the economy billions of pounds every year.

The most common reason that we see more illness during the winter months is that people tend to stay indoors when the temperatures get colder. This allows people to be in closer contact with each other and therefore makes it easier to pass the virus from person to person.

What Bugs?

The most common culprits are:-

The Common Cold – Rhinoviruses and coronaviruses. More than 200 types of virus can cause a cold.  . Colds are caused by viruses attacking the lining of the nose and throat, inflaming these areas.

Seasonal Flu - Influenza is an infectious and common viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes. It's not the same as the common cold. Flu is caused by a different group of viruses. Symptoms tend to be more severe and last longer. You can catch flu all year round, but it is especially common in winter.

Winter Vomiting Virus – Norovirus - There are at least 25 different strains of noroviruses known to affect humans. The first sign of norovirus is usually suddenly feeling sick followed by forceful vomiting and watery diarrhoea. is the most common stomach bug in the UK. The virus is highly contagious. There's no specific cure for norovirus, so you have to let it run its course. 

How Can We Reduce The Spread of Bugs?

Studies have shown that respiratory infections are reduced in groups who practice good hand and respiratory hygiene measures.

Hand Hygiene

Our hands are the single most effective method of spreading germs and will spread about 80% of common infectious diseases. 

Washing hands regularly helps reduce the spread of germs.  Hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds – the same amount of time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice over.  Normal soap and water is sufficient.  You do not kill the germs when you wash your hands.  It is the friction of washing that gets rid of them.

Drying thoroughly will also produce friction to remove further germs left behind.  Germs like warmth and moisture so will begin to multiply more rapidly if you do not dry properly.

Parts of the Hand often Missed in Handwasking (2)

Germ Busting Checklist

• Wash hands often

• Use hand sanitizer in between washes – remember alcohol gel will not protect you against Norovirus you must use soap and water.

• Use tissues to sneeze into

• Sneeze into your elbow when tissues are unavailable

• Get a minimum of 6 - 8 hours of sleep per night

• Drink plenty of water – at least 2 litres per day

• Eat a healthy diet

• Exercise regularly – at least 30 minutes daily


Effective hand washing continues to be universally recognised as…“The smartest most cost-effective means of infection control”


Used with the kind permission of Alison Lambert who is an Occupational Health Nurse at Workfit.

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