February in Utah is cold season. I mean the cough/cold and cold weather. The inversion along the mountains sets in, air quality is sometimes bad, and everyone is sick. This year has been an exceptionally bad cough and cold season. RSV, parainfluenza, rhinovirus, and influenza (to name a few) are running rampant in our communities. I get asked how I manage to stay well when I get coughed on all day every day. I think I’ve built up a pretty good immune system over the years, but I think some basic good tips help a lot.
- Wash your hands. Everyone has heard this, but I mean it—extreme style. I wash before and after every patient encounter. Everyone washes their hands when they walk in my house, no matter where they’ve been (yes, I make my kid’s friends wash their hands when they come over). Wash if you blow your nose. Wash. Wash. Wash
- Don’t touch your face. Most germs enter your body through your nose, mouth, eyes. Get in the habit of not touching your face and you’ll reduce the number of opportunities for getting sick.
- Clean your space. The running joke at work is that before I start the day, I completely Clorox wipe off the counter, phone, and space where I am. I can’t be sure that someone with a cold didn’t pick up the phone. I think the same holds true for your house. Try to keep it a clean zone.
- Eat healthy. Good nutrition is key to staying healthy. Nutritional deficiencies put you at risk for illness. Yet another reason to eat your veggies!
- Sleep. This is the pot calling the kettle black. I think ‘well-rested parent’ is an oxymoron. I had to add it though, since it’s medically correct.
- (Now for those with extreme exposures—like docs, RNs, school teachers, etc.)…De-germ before bringing it home. When I get home, I don’t touch my kids or anything in my house before I have either taken a full shower or at least washed my face, washed hands/arms, pulled back hair, blown my nose (to get all the germs out of my nasal passages), and changed clothes.
I know it sounds like a lot, but you know what they say about an ounce of prevention. Good luck and stay well.
-Photos courtesy of www.123rf.com
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