There are many simple things you can do to lower your risk for catching an upper respiratory tract infection. Dr. Patel, can you give us some prevention tips?
Absolutely, Dr. Green. The best ways to prevent the spread of infection are cleanliness, a strong immune system, and vaccinations.
Simple things you can do to keep yourself and your environment clean from harmful viruses and bacteria include:
- Always washing your hands with soap and water, especially after wiping or blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing, changing a diaper, using the restroom, and before preparing and eating food
- Using instant hand sanitizers when soap and water are not readily available
- Disinfecting or wiping down commonly touched surfaces, such as sink handles, doorknobs, railings, refrigerator and microwave doors, toys, remote controls, and electronic devices
- Using paper towels instead of sharing cloth towels, and
- Reducing contact with people who may have an upper respiratory infection
Ways you can boost your immune system to help it fight off infection when you are exposed include:
- Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke
- NOT using antibiotics if they aren't needed, as overuse can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Getting sufficient quality and quantity of sleep
- Reducing stress
- Eating a balanced and healthy diet
- Exercising regularly, and
- For mothers, breastfeeding, as breast milk has proven to protect children against infection, even years later
Finally, vaccinations are available for several infection-causing viruses and bacteria. These vaccinations include:
- Seasonal influenza, or flu, vaccination, which can and should be received every year by everyone six months of age and older, and
- DTaP and Tdap vaccines, which protect against diphtheria and pertussis. Babies and children younger than seven years old receive DTaP, while older children and adults receive Tdap.