Alice Bachop, M.S.N., F.N.P.
This time of year, it seems like there’s always something going around — whether it’s the flu, strep throat or a gastrointestinal illness. As the weather gets cooler and the holidays near, we’re starting to congregate indoors, making it easy for germs to pass from person to person.
Thankfully, there are some things you can do to protect yourself and others from getting sick. Here are ways you can help prevent the spread of common illnesses:
- Wash your hands thoroughly. Using warm water and soap, rub hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds while washing around cuticles, beneath fingernails and in the creases of your hands. Then rinse thoroughly. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used for times when soap and water aren’t available.
- Contain your coughs and sneezes. To avoid getting germs on your hands, cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the crook of your elbow.
- Avoid crowds as much as possible.
- Use separate personal items in your home. Don’t share utensils, glasses or plates with others, and use separate towels in the bathroom.
If, despite your best efforts, you still get sick this season, stay home until your symptoms resolve or for at least 24 hours if you’re taking an antibiotic. This is an effective way to avoid spreading your illness to others. It’s also a good idea to throw away any toothbrushes or other personal items that could be hosting your germs.