Stay healthy during the cold and flu season

With winter and cold (or at least chillier) weather upon most of us comes the increased risk of getting a cold or the flu. Germs are everywhere and it is important to be aware of the germ hiding places especially during the cold and flu season to avoid becoming sick. This is especially important if you have a weakened immune system because of sickness or disease.

Medicare Can Help You This Flu Season!

Did you know Medicare covers the Flu shot?  Medicare Pathways not only urges you to take precautions against the germs that come with the cold and flu season to stay healthy, but also urges each Medicare beneficiary to take advantage of the preventative services that original Medicare, your Medicare supplement plans or your Medicare Advantage plans offer. In 2013 Medicare has added several new preventative services  to assist in keeping America healthy. Contact your Medicare Pathways Benefit Specialist to discuss the preventative services offered by your private insurance plan.

So where are the “germiest” spots?

According to Lifescript, individuals are exposed to more germs in the grocery store than anywhere else. Why? Almost every individual that enters the grocery store either grabs a shopping cart or a basket. When customers sneeze, wipe their noses, then touch the cart handles, it becomes a breeding ground for infectious viruses and bacteria. The handles are also contaminated by dirty hands in general and leaky meat packages that you pick up from the meat department and then put in your cart or basket. We have all heard of the E. coli bacteria and the subsequent illnesses that are born from exposure to the bacteria. A study by Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a University of Arizona microbiologist, reported that about 70% to 80% of all shopping carts tested positive for E. coli. Dr. Gerba also warns to also be careful around the displays of fruits and veggies because the sprinklers used to keep produce moist may contain Legionnella which can cause a deadly respiratory tract infection, particularly in older people and others with underlying health problems.

Many stores now offer disinfecting wipes for the handles on the grocery carts and baskets. Take advantage of the wipes and clean the handles before you touch them. Also, always wash vegetables and fruits before eating them.

Next on the list of germ ridden areas are restaurant table surfaces and high chairs, and it is not due to contaminated food. The rag that the employees use to “clean” the tables and high chairs is full of germs and as they wipe down the table or chairs, their dirty rags may be spreading a small film of E. coli. Dr. Gerba states that in order to disinfect the tables and chairs the restaurant workers should put disinfectant on the rag after each use on each table or chair to prevent the spread of germs.

A simple fix to getting rid of the germs on the tables, chairs and even the menus is simply to carry disinfecting wipes with you at all times. The wipes are sold in individual packets so once they are used you can discretely toss it in the trash. Plus, individually wrapped disinfectant wipes are very easy to carry in your purse or your pocket.

Next time you use a handrail to assist you on the stairs, on an escalator or touch any other type of handrail remember that many dirty hands have also touched the same rails. Be cautious not to expose open sores to germ ridden areas such as handrails and also do not to touch your face until you have washed your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap and warm water.



Medicare Pathways, Inc. 1-866-466-9118