Cold and flu season means germs, and some places you go every day may be germier than others.
"The prime source of germs -- and in the winter season, we're mostly talking about viruses like the flu and the common cold -- is other people," says Neil Schachter, MD, author of The Good Doctor's Guide to Colds and Flu.
These five places are the germiest you're likely to visit, Schachter says.
- Public restrooms. Bacteria and viruses thrive in a moist place. So sinks, soap dispensers, and toilet seats can host germs.
- Your child's school or day care. In a school or day care, lots of kids are together. There will be lots of opportunities for germs to spread.
- Public transportation. "The closer you are packed together with other people, the more likely you are to spread germs to one another," Schachter says. So subways, buses, trains, and airplanes are likely spots to pick up germs.
- Your doctor's office. Some people in the waiting room may have a cold or the flu. Some pediatricians' offices have separate waiting rooms for "well" and "not so well" kids. But others don't, and you rarely see separate waiting rooms in doctors' offices for adults.
- Other public places. "Places like malls, food courts, museums, sporting events, and concerts -- anywhere big crowds of people gather -- are prime sources of germs, particularly if the space is limited and there are lots of people pushed together," Schachter says.
Of course, you should still be out and about, living your life. You can take steps to keep germs at bay, wherever you go.