Germ Warfare: How To Stay Healthy This Winter

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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July 13, 2015

Relieve Your Child’s Fever Fast

A parent can often feel helpless when a child is suffering from a fever, and seeing the pain they’re in only makes the entire ordeal more difficult to overcome. It is best to stay calm, and offer your kids lots cuddles to make them feel secure. Make sure to monitor the fever over the next few hours and take your child’s temperature at regular intervals. Here are just a few tips on how to relieve your child’s fever.


Whether you’re using an electric or glass thermometer, make sure to use them in the correct way. Electric thermometer’s usually work faster and are more precise. They don’t require you to keep the thermometer under a child’s arm for a long period of time (usually five minutes) to gain an accurate result. If you are using a glass thermometer, remember to shake it down each time you use it.

Cooling bath

If ever your child’s temperature seems to be sky-rocketing, run a cool bath since this helps to temporarily bring down the fever. Remove the child if they start feeling cold or have goosebumps, this could mean the temperature is rising again. Sponge bath’s are also effective if you don’t have the time to draw a regular bath, or even simply a cold rag on the forehead will do the trick.


Offer your child plenty of drinks and cold foods to help bring the fever down. If you can feel them burning up, yoghurt is recommended to cool the body from the inside out. Although if your child is also suffering from a sore throat, water and fruit juices are ideal to keep the throat from getting dry and causing your child any additional pain.

Stay indoors

You can imagine that suffering from a fever isn’t the best time to play outside or even go to school. Keep your child indoors so you can easily monitor their progress throughout the day and night. If the room is feeling stuffy, use a fan or open a window to bring in fresh air without making them even more sick.

A child’s normal body temperature can vary between 36.6°C and 37.6°C, so try to monitor their temperature every half an hour to see any big changes. Chills are also important to look out for since this could mean that the fever is increasing, so always keep a thermometer and a change of clothes at hand. If your child’s fever is increasing over a couple of days, be sure to visit your local doctor.

Image via A Nation of Moms

By Felicia Sapountzis

June 14, 2014