Friday, September 30, 2011

Get Ready mailbag: How can I stay healthy at high school?

Welcome to another installment of the Get Ready Mailbag, when we take time to answer questions sent our way by readers like you. Have a question you want answered? Send an email to

Q: I’m in high school. Everyone seems sick right now and I don’t want to catch it. What should I do?

A: When you share a campus with the same people for eight or more hours a day, it seems inevitable that you’ll end up sharing their germs, too. It’s easy to assume that if everyone around you in class is sneezing that it’s only a matter of time before you will be also. In fact, almost 22 million school days were lost last year because of colds. But, luckily, there are a few “dos and don’ts” you can follow to stay healthy at school.

On the “do” list:
• Wash your hands. The surfaces in a school — desks, doorknobs, keyboards, lunch tables, gym lockers — are touched by hundreds of hands each day, making them perfect places to pick up germs.

• Get your flu shot. If 22 million seemed like a big number, consider the fact that 38 million school days were lost last year because of the flu. Getting your yearly seasonal vaccine is a simple way to stay healthy during flu season.

• Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth — they’re the places where germs most often enter your body.

On the “don’t” list:
• Use someone else’s makeup. It’s an easy way to land a case of pinkeye, also known as conjunctivitis.

• Share drinks — or food, or lip balm, or anything else that goes in or around another person’s mouth. And on that note, be careful who you kiss!

Use common sense. That, along with good hygiene, should help protect against any sickness that’s infected your classmates. And finally, remember the golden rule and help others out if you do become sick by covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze, throwing away used tissues and staying home from school.

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