Now that most kids are back in school and we are looking forward to the upcoming holiday season, we may feel like we’ve got it made in the shade. Allergy season is behind us, for the most part (not that we see much of that here, lucky us!), and this is good. However, it also means that cold and flu season is ahead of us. Heading into the last months of the year may not mean a huge change in seasonal weather, but it can mean a change in our exposure to cold-causing germs.
A nasty cold is a risk for all of us. It doesn’t matter how healthy we are in general; we may be struck down when we least expect it. That’s why it’s good to expect it, just in case! When the air becomes dryer and cooler, viruses can spread more quickly. Couple that with busy holiday activities and you can see how the flu can easily spread throughout classrooms, schools, and offices. What does this have to do with our eyes?
When a person has a cold, the germs that they carry can be expressed into the air. They can stick to doorknobs and the hands of those they touch. When those germs spread and stick, they can be passed on to our nose and eyes. Due to the vulnerability of the soft mucosa in these parts of the body, there is a higher susceptibility for cold-passing when germs meet these areas of the face. Once a virus has entered the eyes or nose, it can travel to the throat, causing, even more, discomfort and inconvenience.
Catching a cold doesn’t necessarily mean weeks or longer of sickness for most people. It can mean temporary sensitivity and discomfort. The eyes may feel especially fragile; dry and tired when we have a cold. For this reason, it is important to take extra care during this time of year to protect them, and the rest of you, from catching that unexpected bout of the flu. Some of the ways this can be achieved include:
- Spend time washing your hands. Don’t just slather on hand sanitizer, actually wash. Let your hands sit under the warm water for a moment before applying soap, then rub hands together in a way that all areas are touched; the palms, the backs of hands, and even between fingers. Don’t just wash sometimes, wash several times a day. You may be surprised at how many objects you touch that have been touched by others, as well.
- Be mindful about touching the skin around your eyes, especially if you have not washed your hands recently.
- Always wash hands before touching or inserting contact lenses.