germs, staying healthy, health, getting sick, cold and flu, cold and flu season

My household has had the dreaded flu for over a week. Yet ironically, dear old mum has managed to stay healthy amidst an endless disposal of sick buckets and snotty tissues. Like most mums, I can’t afford to get sick because seriously, who’s going to look after me if I crash and burn? Therefore, I recently put my germ warfare strategies into action and managed to stay healthy in a house full of sick people. All without the slightest hint of a sniffle!

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Luckily, I trained as a nurse for a year and a lot of the training surrounded germ and disease control – and not just the everyday cold and flu, but more serious infections like golden staph, hepatitis and HIV. Regardless of the type of infection, however, the strategies to reduce the chance of catching anything is very similar. While a lot is basic hygiene, there are some other immune boosters I use around my home. They not only keep me healthy but get sick family members back on their feet faster. That’s a win, win for everyone!

Basic hygiene

Basic hygiene is stuff like hand washing after using the toilet or before cooking. While I’m in the company of sick people I make sure I wash my hands way more often. For example, if someone is bed ridden (like my family has been) I’ll wash my hands after dealing with them every time.

Overkill? Not really. Imagine if I were to throw out dirty tissues from my sons room and then get asked to grab my partner a couple of pain killers and a glass of water? They’re innocent tasks that we do without thinking, but if I go from one to another without washing my hands, I’d be transferring germs from one to another without them having any contact.

Luckily, in a household situation I know they’re sick so I take precautions. Cross contamination happens so frequently in public places and that makes hand washing really important. Then there’s other basics like always covering your mouth when sneezing and coughing. These are simple things we learn but essential in germ warfare, whether it be a common cold or Ebola.

Get some fresh air!

Many people avoid going outside in winter because it’s just so damn cold. However, a bit of fresh air is really good for you. So on days when the suns out, get outside when you can. So many of us rely on air-conditioning units to stay warm in places like offices, malls and our homes, yet these systems are excellent breading grounds for bacteria. Getting outside is a great way to boost your immune system and provide a bit of vitamin D if you’re lucky.

Using steam to clear your airways

You don’t need a vaporiser to be able to use steam to clear your airways – there are some excellent alternatives. Bathrooms offer a room full of steam, which is great if you start to feel congested. Another option is a bucket of hot water covered with a towel. I have wood heating and place a large saucepan of water on top of the unit with either with a drop of eucalyptus or a dash of chest rub in it. You can also do this with a saucepan on the stove.

Not only does this make the house smell great but eucalyptus is an awesome disinfectant. When you use it to vaporise the air, it’s like pumping clean air into your home which not only prevents illness but also helps heal the sick. It’s also a very strong and a natural cleaner; so when wiping over benches add a drop of eucalyptus to your cloth and it will prevent germs from spreading.

Homemade chicken soup

No, this isn’t an old wives tale! Apparently there has been significant medical evidence on the benefits of homemade chicken soup. For one, it can thin mucus and make it easy to expel. It’s also packed with easy to digest nutrition such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and sulfur. Furthermore, it’s good for your gut and great for inflammation. So why specifically homemade and not bought broth varieties? Well homemade is cooked slower and therefore the chicken can release more healing properties.

Final tip

The last thing to remember is that when you do feel something itching to strike, STAY HOME! Chances are if you do head out to work, study or socialise, you’ll ultimately get sick. That twinge we usually feel before we get ill is the immune system giving us a warning. It’s trying to say that it’s under pressure and fighting some bug, so take extra precautions.

If you learn to listen to your body you’ll instinctively know the signs. Either be very vigilant if you really need to go out, or stay home and give your immune system the best possible chance to fight it.  This will not only reduce any time off in the immediate future, but it will also lessen the chances of you passing your germs along to someone else. Unfortunately, it’s because sick people go out in public that we have a cold and flu season in the first place.

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