Contributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman
As the weather cools down, virus season kicks up. You know it’s coming, and you want to keep yourself and your family healthy. But short of spending the next few months on in a bubble, what can you do to decrease the chance of sick days ahead?
The good news is that there are simple things you can do to lessen the risk of a bug coming home. Here are ten virus prevention tips that might help keep those nasty bugs at bay. Of course, nothing is foolproof. And if you do get sick, make sure you talk with your health care provider to get the right diagnosis and treatment.
10. Regular handwashing
It might sound trivial. After all, we all know we’re supposed to wash our hands before eating, after using the bathroom and after handling anything used by a sick family member. But if the research is accurate, many of us (up to 60% according to some studies) do not wash our hands after using a restroom.
Simply boosting handwashing, including the use of soap for all instances, could dramatically reduce the amount of germs and viruses carried on our hands. That could make it one of the most effective virus prevention tips we could offer. (The Mayo Clinic recommends against using antibacterial soaps on a regular basis, so any liquid or bar soap will do.)
9. Disposable gloves
If you have to handle waste products from people who are or are likely to be sick with a virus, using disposable gloves is an inexpensive and effective was to reduce your own risk. Optimally, you should wash your hands WITH the gloves still on, then remove and dispose of the gloves, then wash your hands a second time.
8. Avoid contact where possible
Of course, there will be times when you have to be around people who are sick with a virus, like when your child or partner is ill. And often, people with a virus do not yet appear sick. But wherever possible, try to avoid spending time around people who are showing signs of a viral infection.
If your cubicle mate says they have a fever and feel ill, ask them to not come in (or to head home.) If your book club buddy is sneezing and coughing, skip the meeting — or ask them to do so.
7. Wear a mask
It might look a bit odd, but a surgical mask can be a good way to stay healthy when people around you have an airborne virus. Disposable masks are the best choice for most home users, although washable surgical masks can be used if there’s a longer term need.
Disposable masks should be thrown away as soon as they’re removed. To avoid the risk of spreading germs or a virus, they should NOT be left on surfaces or reused. Washable ones should go into the laundry immediately when removed.
6. New toothbrushes
Replacing the toothbrush of a person who has been sick with a virus can help to prevent the spread of the virus to others…and can also help them avoid reinfecting themselves.
If you have a family member with a virus, make sure their toothbrush is not stored in the same rack, cup or drawer with that of other family members. The warm, moist environment of a toothbrush can make an ideal breeding ground for some viruses.
5. Keep high-risk areas clean and disinfected
If a virus is causing vomiting and diarrhea, the bathroom can quickly become a high-risk area for contamination. Simply making sure all surfaces in bathrooms including toilets, sinks, handles and floors are kept clean and sanitized can work as a virus prevention tool.
Use paper towels or disposable cleaning cloths and do wear gloves and a mask. Put all the waste paper, the gloves and the mask in a bag which can immediately be closed and thrown into a covered trash can.
4. Skip the water fountain
Something as simple as carrying your own water bottle instead of drinking from a public water fountain can reduce the change of contracting a virus. And of course, don’t refill your water bottle at a public drinking fountain.
3. Check travel notices and virus reports
Before you decide to head out on a trip, find out if there’s a high incidence of a virus at your destination. The CDC offers a weekly influenza map showing outbreaks for each state. And the State Department offers similar information for international travel. That way you can decide if the risk is worth the benefit of your travel.
2. Take your vitamins
Many studies have shown that daily multivitamins, certain herbs and several other kinds of natural supplements can help your body resist viruses and other infections. Do your own research or talk with your health care provider to see what might work best for you.
1. Take care of yourself
Sometimes the best way to avoid getting sick is the most basic. Eating well, getting enough exercise and spending time outdoors while avoiding smoking and other unhealthy substances are all ways to boost your body’s ability to fight invading viruses and other infections. A healthy, fit body is less likely to get sick, even when everyone else is out with the latest virus.
If you’re not feeling well, are concerned about a specific kind of illness or have a special need to avoid catching a viral infection, you should consult with a health care provider to find out the best choices for you.