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Keeping Colds and Other Contagious Infections Contained

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Six Prevention Strategies to Use Every Day

Preventing any illness, including the common cold, begins with the following six basic prevention strategies:

  • Think of hand washing as a survival skill (More on this later).
  • Never touch your mouth, nose, or eyes without washing your hands.
  • Teach your kids not to share food and other things that go in the mouth, as in guzzling milk from the carton or double dipping chips.
  • Encourage family members to cover their mouths with a tissue when they cough or sneeze and to dispose of the tissue themselves. No time to grab a tissue? Cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow instead of your hands.
  • Avoid sharing personal items like toiletries, towels, and pillows.
  • Get proper rest and good nutrition to improve resistance and bolster immunity.

Stock Up Before Cold and Flu Season Strike

Make sure you are prepared ahead of time for colds, coughs, flu, and other seasonal illnesses. Here's what you need to buy:

  • 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

Be Your Own Bodyguard Against Cold and Flu

As soon as someone in your house shows symptoms of a cold, flu, or any contagious illness, keep your distance from their coughs, sneezes, and objects they touch. Here's what you must know:

  • Use paper towels instead of community towels in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • If your spouse is ill, sleep on the couch or in the guest room, and use a different bathroom.
  • If a sick child crawls in bed with you, sleep behind the child to avoid his or her coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoid contact with counters, utensils, phones, and other objects the sick person has touched.

For in-depth information, see WebMD's 12 Natural Tips to Prevent a Cold.

Teach Family Members to Wash Hands Frequently

According to the CDC, frequent and thorough hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent catching colds, 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 sneezing
  • When your hands are dirty
  • More frequently if someone in your home is sick
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