Q. I think I have a bad cold virus. How do I keep my wife and new baby from getting sick too?
A. In most cases, this isn't a big issue, as it is usually your kids that pick up these viruses at school and daycare and get their parents sick. If you have a new baby or young infant at home, keeping them healthy is very important, since even a simple cold virus can make them very sick.
So how do you keep from spreading your germs?
To begin with, it can help to understand how these viruses are spread to family members when someone at home is sick. With a cold virus, it is your respiratory secretions, from when you cough or sneeze or wipe your nose, that are contagious. So if you can limit other peoples contact with these secretions, you can help keep them from getting sick.
Some common scenarios that show how germs are spread, include a sick person:
coughing into their hand, touching a faucet on the kitchen sink or some other appliance and leaving their germs behind. Next, another family member touches the faucet and then touches their own eyes, nose or mouth, allowing the germs into their own body. This can also happen if you touch a door knob, remote control or your child's toys while your hands are contaminated with your germs.
coughing or sneezing into the air and someone simply breathing the germs in.
drinking from a cup or glass and then another family member using the same glass. (Consider using disposable cups, plates and utensils when you are sick).
One way to limit the spread of your germs is to quarantine yourself as much as possible in one part of your home. If this isn't possible, you should consider wearing a surgical mask when you are around others. Or sneeze and cough into a fresh tissue and throw it into the trash after you use it each time.
It is also very important to wash your hands a lot and for at least 10 - 15 seconds with a liquid or clean bar soap. According to the CDC, it is especially important to wash your hands:The most important thing that you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands.
By frequently washing your hands you wash away germs that you have picked up from other people, or from contaminated surfaces, or from animals and animal waste.
What happens if you do not wash your hands frequently?
You pick up germs from other sources and then you infect yourself when you
* Touch your eyes
* Or your nose
* Or your mouth.
One of the most common ways people catch colds is by rubbing their nose or their eyes after their hands have been contaminated with the cold virus.
You can also spread germs directly to others or onto surfaces that other people touch. And before you know it, everybody around you is getting sick.
The important thing to remember is that, in addition to colds, some pretty serious diseases -- like hepatitis A, meningitis, and infectious diarrhea -- can easily be prevented if people make a habit of washing their hands.
When should you wash your hands?
You should wash your hands often. Probably more often than you do now because you can't see germs with the naked eye or smell them, so you do not really know where they are hiding.
Before, during, and after you prepare food
Before you eat, and after you use the bathroom
And all family members should wash their hands, not just the person that is sick.
It can also help to decrease your chances of spreading your germs if you control your symptoms. If you aren't coughing or sneezing very much, then you will be less likely to contaminate others. A cold medication, with a decongestant and cough suppressant can be helpful to lessen your cold symptoms.
You can also keep from spreading germs by cleaning and disinfecting your home, especially the kitchen and bathroom. The CDC states that the 'best way to routinely clean and disinfect surfaces' includes:
Cleaning the surface thoroughly with soap and water or another cleaner
After cleaning, if you need to use a disinfectant, apply it to the area, and let it stand for a few minutes or longer, depending on the manufacturers recommendations. This keeps the germs in contact with the disinfectant longer.
Wipe the surface with paper towels that can be thrown away or cloth towels that can be washed afterwards.
Remember that you are often most contagious just before you begin having symptoms, so while all of these tips are especially important when you are sick, you should try to practice them all of the time. That doesn't mean that you have to always wear a mask, but you and all family members should routinely wash their hands often and avoid sharing cups and utensils, even when everyone is well.
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