Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How to Prevent a Cold

This is a busy time for us in the office because everyone is calling us and coming in sick.  Thus, it is pretty inevitable that I get sick, too.  Now, I've heard people say, "doctors are not supposed to get sick!"  The reality is, doctors probably get sick more often because of the constant exposure.  So if you combine a busy job with frequent exposure to germs with sleep deprived mom of three young kids... definite formula for sickness!

So why do folks get sick so much in the winter time?  Cold weather does not actually cause colds as some may think.  Theory is that cold weather brings folks indoors and being inside near a lot of people is a way for cold viruses to spread.

Here are some practical tips to stay healthy:

  • Wash your hands a lot!  Touching doorknobs, table tops, etc that is infected with cold virus that someone else touch a while ago can transmit it to your hands (viruses can live 2-8 hrs on surfaces)
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible
  • Avoid close contact with sick folks
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat healthy
  • Avoid stress if possible
  • Get plenty of sleep
You may think it is basic...  but here is the 101 for handwashing:


As often as possible!  Especially...
  • Anytime you shake someone's hand who is sick
  • Anytime you pick up tissue or care for sick child
  • When come home from a public place (like school, mall, etc)
  • Definitely before you eat
  • Before putting contacts in your eyes
  • Wet with running water
  • Apply soap
  • Lather for 20 seconds (sing happy birthday twice!) and scrub all surfaces of hand
  • Dry with disposable towel or air dryer for best results
  • Turn off faucet with towel
**Using antibacterial soap may actually cause resistance which will make it harder to kill the bacteria in the future so plain soap and water is best!!

Two out of our three exam rooms in the office do not have a sink and running water.  So we have hand sanitizers instead.  Some say this is better than nothing... but the hand sanitizer needs to be at least 60% alcohol.  However, as this article points out, hand sanitizers should not take the place of hand washing.

So this is probably why I am sick all the time!  Well... that and the fact that I'm so sleep deprived.  Read my previous post here about lack of sleep and increase risk of colds.  Basically if you get less than 7 hours of sleep at night you are at significant risk of catching a cold!  So what am I doing blogging when my 5 month old will probably be waking up in the next couple of hours?  I better get to sleep...