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Healthy Habits To Prevent Acquiring Infections


Author Amy Blakeslee, PA-C, SLV Health, Primary Care, Stuart Ave, Alamosa, CO

Does anyone else feel ready for spring to arrive? I know I’m not the only one. Unfortunately, in the midst of birds chirping their sunny song, we are also hearing sneezes and coughs in the grocery store, classrooms, and in our living rooms. The flu and cold season is still upon us and it is important to be aware of everyday measures that can reduce your risk of getting sick and keep you healthy to enjoy the warmer weather. While your healthcare provider can help you manage symptoms once you are feeling ill, it is best to prevent getting sick altogether.

Here are a few tips to keep your immune system strong:

Get a good night’s rest

  • Toddlers and young children require 10-12 hours of sleep every day
  • Adults need 8 hours of quality sleep every night
  • Try and stop all screen time (phone, computer, tv) at least an hour before going to bed

Stay hydrated

  • Drinking approximately eight 8 oz glasses of water a day is a good goal for remaining hydrated
  • When you are sick, lots of clear fluids like water and herbal tea will help flush your body, soothe your throat, regulate your temperature and keep mucus secretions thin
  • Coffee, soda, and alcohol should be limited as they are often high in sugar and can cause dehydration. Remaining hydrated is key for good health!

Eating a balanced healthy diet

  • While there are many popular diets, the best plan for your health is to increase the amount and variety of vegetables you eat while decreasing fried and processed foods or fast food meals
  • Choose healthy snacks like nuts, fruit, chopped veggies, or yogurt to eat between meals
  • Sugar should be considered a treat to have in very small quantities
  • Have fun and be creative with your meals – try a new vegetable every week!

Quitting smoking

  • Smoking increases the risk of contracting infections and also makes most cold symptoms worse
  • It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you’ve been smoking – quitting at any time will improve your health!

Hand hygiene

  • Hand washing is an important way to reduce your risk of getting sick or infecting others
  • Wash your hands often with warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Always wash your hands after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • If you can’t wash your hands, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) will help reduce the spread of infection
  • Make sure to cough and sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands

Use of masks

  • Face masks should be used by anyone with symptoms including cough, sneezing, or fevers
  • If you are not experiencing these symptoms or caring for someone who is sick, it is not necessary to wear a mask


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, that is now being found in other countries including the United States. Similar to influenza, COVID-19 can be spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is important to be informed and practice preventative measures to protect yourself and the health of our community.

The symptoms associated with COVID-19 include: fever, cough, and trouble breathing. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after contact with the virus, however, some infected persons have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing these symptoms, your healthcare provider can evaluate you and help decide what the next steps should be. It is important to call before coming if you are experiencing symptoms. SLVH has a nurse triage line. It is (719) 589-2511, Press 9.

There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medicine that effectively treats this virus, which is why it is important to prevent acquiring this illness by practicing the healthy habits described in this article. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed specific recommendations regarding travel (

Our health and the health of our community is worth protecting. Your participation in practicing these preventative and healthy habits will ensure that we all thrive this year. Three cheers for handwashing!