Sure, we all want to avoid getting sick. But, unfortunately, everyone succumbs to a cold or other contagious illnesses at some point. That's because we can be exposed to the illness before the person who has it shows any symptoms. For example: A family member may sneeze several times at the dinner table before coming down with full-blown cold symptoms the next day; the flu can be contagious about a day prior to the onset of symptoms; and strep throat can be contagious as much as five days before symptoms occur.
However, if someone in your household has a common cold or other contagious bug, there are many things you can do to stay well. Here are some strategies that may help keep you healthy and catchy infections contained.
Person to Person
The main way that influenza viruses are thought to spread is from person to
person in respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes. (This is called "droplet
spread.") This can happen when droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected
person are propelled through the air and deposited on the mouth or nose of
people nearby. Influenza viruses may also be spread when a person touches
respiratory droplets on another person or an object and then touches their own
mouth or nose (or...
Immunizations have reduced or eliminated diseases such as smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), and polio. But despite the success of vaccines, contagious diseases often outwit our best efforts to control them. For instance, there is concern now about a resurgence of whooping cough, which is most contagious before the coughing actually starts. However, vaccinations are still the best way to prevent whooping cough. 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.
No matter what your age, talk to your doctor to see if you are current with all of your immunizations. You should also make sure you get a flu shot annually to protect yourself from influenza, and if you are in the group of people who need one (ask your doctor), you should get the pneumococcal vaccine as well. It can help protect you against pneumonia.
Remember, though, while a flu shot is one of the best ways to avoid the flu, the vaccines aren't always 100% effective. And flu, if you catch it, can lead to serious respiratory complications such as pneumonia or bacterial bronchitis. So in addition to making sure you have all your immunizations and shots, you should also know about and use the following "stay-well" strategies to prevent illness and keep catchy infections contained.
Six Prevetion Strategies to Use Every Day
Preventing any illness, including the common cold, begins with these basic prevention strategies:
Wash your hands often.
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 (no 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.