Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

DYK? Preparing for Colds & Flu

Note: These are only suggestions and are no guarantee that colds and flu will stay away from your home. Since I got my first cold on Saturday, it appears that I need to be taking my own advice more seriously.

Newsflash! Did you know that cold and flu season is here and that it is possible to navigate this time of year without getting horribly sick or, for that matter, without getting sick at all? Try these strategies from WebMD, as posted on The Weather Channel.

1. Get immunized.

I know this is a controversial/contentious subject for many people; however, being the survivor of an extremely severe case of German measles (contracted when I was sixteen) and being the child of parents who can remember their friends dying from diseases like diphtheria, I fully admit that I am an advocate for vaccination. The recommendation for cold and flu season is to check with your doctor about whether you should consider getting a flu shot, a pneumonia shot, or both. This may also be of interest:
...there is concern now about a resurgence of whooping cough, which is most contagious before the coughing actually starts. The best way to prevent whooping cough is still through vaccinations. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP, and there's also a whooping cough booster vaccine for adolescents and adults ages 19 through 64 called TDaP. The booster not only protects against whooping cough but also against tetanus and diphtheria.
2. Wash your hands.

This has got to be the king (or queen, depending on your perspective) of illness prevention strategies!
According to the CDC, frequent and thorough hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent catching cols, flu, or any contagious disease. Be sure to wash your hands frequently, including the following times:

- Before and after you prepare food
- Before you eat
- After you use the bathroom
- Before and after changing a baby's diaper
- After handling animals or animal waste
- After coughing or sneeze
- When your hands are dirty
- More frequently if someone in your home is sick

To wash hands properly, follow these steps:

- Wet your hands and apply liquid or clean bar soap. Place bar soap on a soap dish that allows it to drain.
- Rub your hands together vigorously, scrubbing all surfaces for 15 to 20 seconds. That's about how long it takes ot hum the song "Happy Birthday to You" twice.
- Rinse well and dry your hands. In a public restroom, use the air dryer or paper towels.
- In the absence of soap and water, use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers.
3. Don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands.

Great advice! Tough to follow.

4. Don't share food, toiletries, towels, or pillows.

From a very young age, we are all taught that sharing is a good thing. Absolutely! But during cold and flu season, we need to be a little more conscientious about what we share. In our effort to be kind, we may give more than we intend.

5. Cover you mouth before coughing and your nose before sneezing.

If tissues are unavailable, cough or sneeze into your crooked elbow. If tissues are available and you use them, dispose of them quickly and (preferably) in the toilet so they can be flushed. If your are sick in bed, don't pile your used tissues on the nightstand or throw them on the floor next to the bed. Place them in a trash receptacle tat can be emptied and disinfected easily...and often.

6. Eat right, drink water, and get plenty of rest to improve your resistance.

Concentrate on foods that contain plenty of beta carotene, vitamin C, zinc, and garlic. Eat chicken soup. Drink the recommended eight glasses of water a day or, as some health professionals suggest, one-half ounce of water for every pound of body weight (in my case, 0.50 x 172 = 86 ounces). Sleep for six to eight hours per night; more if you are ill.

7. Stock up on supplies.

Here is what the WebMD article recommends:
- A thermometer for each family member
- Extra toothbrushes and personal tubes of toothpaste
- Plenty of tissues, toilet paper, and paper towels
- Throat lozenges and anything else that makes the sick person comfortable
My stock up list also includes:

- Expectorant, either liquid or tablet
- Cough suppressant (this is often combined with the expectorant)
- Acid reducer (sinus drainage often gives me heartburn)
- Ginger ale (in case sinus drainage causes nausea)
- Salt cartridge for my inhaler
- Humidifier filters

I also make sure my steamer is in good working order and my humidifier is cleaned and ready to go.

8. Disinfect germ hotspots.

Bacteria and viruses can survive on surfaces for as long as a few days or as short as a few hours. To keep on top of the contagions in your home.
...use a common disinfectant on the following household hotspots.

- Phones
- Remote controls
- Microwave and refrigerator handles
- Door handles and doorknobs
- Toilet seats and handles
- Faucets
- Light switches
- Computer keyboards/mouse
- Video game handheld controls
- Toys

What's the best disinfectant? The CDC recommends inexpensive chlorine bleach, which is effective against viruses. Add one-fourth of a cup of bleach to one gallon of warm water and allow the mixture to sit on the hotspot surface for 10 minutes before rinsing. Whenever disinfecting surfaces, you should wear rubber gloves, ventilate the area, and, if you're sensitive to chemicals, wear a mask. Wash your hand after removing the rubber gloves.
Personally, I use Shaklee Basic-G and wipe down most of the items listed above on a daily basis. It takes a few minutes, but the payoff is worth it fi you don't get sick.

9. Keep up with the laundry.

Containing illness is hard work. When you or a loved one is ill, it's advisable to wash towels, washcloths, pillows, and bedding daily. You may want to wash the stuffed animals that kids cuddle to remove germs.
I would also add heating pad covers to the aforementioned laundry list. Personally I don't wash my pillows. Instead, I cover them with both a vinyl pillow protector and a cloth pillow protector before putting on a pillowcase. Then when I change pillowcases and cloth protectors, all I need to do is spray and wipe the vinyl protector with some Basic-G to sanitize them. I also don't wash my sheets every day unless the severity of the illness dictates. Twice a week has proved sufficient in my home. I would be exhausted just from doing laundry if I washed sheets every day!

10. Know your enemies

Familiarize yourself with the "bugs" you could encounter during the season. Know the symptoms of each and their recommended care protocols, especially those symptoms that should trigger timely medical intervention. To learn more about the following diseases, visit this WebMD cold & flu information page. These are some of the illnesses you should be watching for:

- Common cold
- Acute bronchitis
- Strep throat
- Flu
- Chickenpox
- Stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis)
- Whooping cough

1 comment:

Greg said...

Great post!
A few thoughts regarding disinfectants. Bleach uses a leeching method to poison microbes. It has a "shelf life" and can be very harmful to humans, surfaces, and the environment. Also inorder to properly disinfect the surface first needs to be cleaned of any soil because the bleach will only be effective under a limited bio-load. Too much soil will inactivate the bleach.

EO Water may be an effective solution for you. It is a medical grade disinfectant and is green.