While you can get sick at any time of the year, winters in general and this winter in particular have many hard-hitting viruses – including the common cold but also norovirus and influenza – busily circulating through schools, businesses and homes.
With many of us suffering from sneezing, coughing, and just feeling lousy, I’d like to share some tips to help stop the spread of viruses and stay healthy.
Colds are more common in the winter and spring, but it is possible to get a cold any time of the year. Some symptoms of a cold usually include a runny nose, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, and watery eyes. Most people will recover from a cold within about 7-10 days.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this season’s influenza activity has reached the epidemic threshold in the U.S., and activity is expected to continue in the coming weeks. Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before their symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Symptoms of the flu may include a fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, muscle or body aches, and fatigue.
An uptick in norovirus has recently been reported in the news. Norovirus is a very contagious virus that can cause stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Norovirus can be transmitted by an infected person, through contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. You are most contagious when you are sick with norovirus illness and during the first few days after you recover from norovirus illness.
Your best defense to avoid the spread of germs is to wash your hands, correctly and often. Waterless, alcohol-based hand sanitizers (e.g., Purell) are as good as soap and water for most purposes as long as hands are not visibly soiled and as long as someone doesn’t have diarrhea. Several of the common germs that cause diarrhea are not as effectively inactivated by alcohol as they are by soap.
Here are some more tips:
If you experience symptoms such as a high fever, severe vomiting and/or diarrhea, or your symptoms don’t get better within several days, you should contact your doctor’s office.
I hope these tips help you and those around you stay healthy!