Article posted Thursday, March 15, 2012 2:55pm

Dear Mary Pat,

It’s that time of year again – cold and flu season. It seems to me that whenever I’m in closed quarters, whether a car or an airplane or a conference room, that someone is sniffling and sneezing…or worse. At what point is it poor manners to be out in public spreading your germs?

Don’t Bug Me

Sturgeon Bay, WI

Dear Don’t Bug Me,

This is a tough one. I know that it is easy to spot a person sneezing and sniffling; however, that doesn’t always mean that they are sick. For example, they may have allergies. Or, they’ve been on antibiotics for a week and are over the worst of it. And unfortunately, sometimes someone is the most contagious before they even realize that they are sick.

I take your point though. If someone is really sick and chooses to come to work, you are put in a vulnerable position. You know what they say…the best defense is a good offense. Instead of sighing, accepting it and waiting to get sick, make sure that you’re on the attack against nasty germs. Take something like Echinacea, Emergen-C or Airborne. They are herbs and supplements that help bolster your immune system. Make sure that you aren’t run down yourself. If you’re low on sleep, exercise and healthy food, you are more likely to get sick. Be sure to constantly wash your hands or carry hand sanitizer with you. It’s not a bad idea to de-germ the places that the sick person has been with an antibacterial wipe. Try never to touch your face since germs have a better chance of attacking you. If you are flying, don’t use the group pillows, blankets, etc.; bring your own or skip it. If you’re at the gym, try wiping the machines down BEFORE you start your workout. Most people are conscientious; however, there’s always the one who doesn’t wipe down the equipment after their workout…and he’s probably the one who has been hacking up a lung and worked out on the machine you’re about to use.

Hope you manage to stay healthy!

Good luck,

Mary Pat