Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Stop the Spread of Germs

By Brandi M. Seals

It can be difficult to stay healthy year round, especially when the weather turns cold and everyone starts congregating indoors. Put you and your family ahead of the game by learning how to stop the spread of germs.

Avoid Close Contact
Start by avoiding close contact with others, especially those who are sick. When you are sick be sure to give people some room. Germs can spread easily from one person to another, take a step back and stay healthy.

Stay In When Sick
A lot of people try to power through being sick and they go to work or school. That is not a good idea. If we all stayed home when we got sick it would go along way towards preventing the spread of germs. Next time you are feeling ill, stay in. Your coworkers or your child's school will appreciate it.

There are several symptoms of illness. Common symptoms include:
Fever
Headache
Extreme tiredness
Cough
Sore throat
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle aches
Nausea
Vomiting
Diarrhea

Always Cover Your Mouth and Nose
It seems that etiquette when it comes to coughing and sneezing has grown lax over the past several years. Do not expose those around you to a cold or germs. Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue while coughing or sneezing. Teach your children to do the same. If you do not have a tissue handy, it is preferable to sneeze into the shoulder rather than sneeze on your hands. If you do sneeze or cough on your hands, wash your hands immediately.

Wash Your HandsProtect yourself and others by washing your hands regularly. Each day we pick up several germs. They are on the door knobs, on the phone receiver; they are everywhere you can think of. Washing them off your hands is a great way to avoid letting those germs make you sick.

Teach your children to wash their hands often, especially before and after they eat. When washing they should be washing with soap and warm water and it should take at least 15 to 20 seconds to wash. To help them understand how much time that is, explain that they should sing the Happy Birthday song twice while they wash. That way you know they are getting enough time under the faucet.

If you are away from water or soap is not available, you could use a hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of germs. Keep alcohol-based hand wipes or gel sanitizer on hand. They do not require any water to work. Simply rub your hands until the gel dries. The alcohol in the wipes and gel will kill the germs on your hands.

Do Not Touch Your Eyes, Nose or Mouth
Germs spread easily when we touch our eyes, nose or mouth. If you see your child doing it, point it out. Kids often touch their faces a lot and usually do not wash their hands often. That companied with the fact that they spend a large part of their day in close quarters with lots of people explains why they get sick so easily.

Germs spread easily when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs (such as doorknobs, desks, tables, etc) and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs can live on these contaminated surfaces for awhile. Try to get everyone to avoid touching surfaces and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.Besides trying to stop the spread of germs, there are other things you and your family can do to stay healthy. Start by getting a flu shot each fall. The flu shot will help family members build up a resistance to the flu virus. Other than the flu shot, keep the family healthy by making sure everyone gets plenty of sleep, drink plenty of fluids, eat nutritious food, and stay physically active. These steps should be taken year round and will leave everyone feeling healthier and happier.

Even if you do everything right you cannot entirely avoid becoming sick. Do what you can and then remember to give yourself time to recoup when you are feeling down. Try to limit stress in your life. Any stress you or your children may be under may increase the odds of getting sick.

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