The title music from the movie Catch Me If You Can with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks just sprang to mind. Unlike Leonardo however, whose character (Frank Abagnale) was rather elusive, Influenza doesn’t play hard to get at all. Luckily, with all this information, WE can!
Here’s What You Should Know
From what I gleaned reading some online articles* just now, Influenza enters our systems through the nose, mouth, and/or eyes through either direct contact with an infected person, contact with an infected surface (usually by touching our face with infected hands, but it could be sharing a cup, etc), or inhaling infected air. The Flu virus can live around 24 hours on a non-porous surface like a plastic cup or handrail. Air can be infected in a 6 foot radius of someone with the virus.
We like to say that kids are walking petri dishes, and this is true. But adults aren’t that much better. One study found that adults touch their mouth/nose after touching a surface 3-4 times per hour!
We are usually infected (and therefore contagious) for about a day or two before showing symptoms, and about 7 days after getting sick. These numbers are both a bit higher in children- 2-3 days before symptoms and up to 3 weeks after getting sick. Actually, we’re contagious when we don’t show symptoms, too. We can carry and transmit the virus even if we don’t feel like walking death.
OK, but I wash my hands, and my kids aren’t sick.
Great! Washing your hands definitely helps. One study said it decreased the spread of illness between 10-50%. BUT, as we mentioned before, people can be contagious even when they aren’t symptomatic, and having clean hands won’t help so much if you’re breathing infected air.
How to Prevent the Flu
Preventing the spread of the virus:
- Wear a face mask when in public
- Wash your hands smarter
- Cough into your elbow instead of your hands
- Don’t touch your face (you’ll be surprised how often you do it now that I’ve brought it to your attention!)
- Stay away from infected people and crowded public areas. Great excuse to stay home and be a homebody!
- Stay home- hey, quarantine can be fun, too. Check out our bathtime ideas, or some of these fun ideas.
- Clean the surfaces at home with an all-purpose cleaner and microfiber cloth (door knobs, counters, toilet handles, faucets, handrails, your phone…)
- Microwave the sponges everyday (make sure they’re wet first!)
- Change hand towels often
- Don’t share eating utensils
- Decrease contact with other humans in general (hand shaking, hugging, the little half-kisses some people do on each other’s cheeks, etc.)
- Getting the flu shot
Boosting your immune system
(especially if you have one or more of those beloved walking petri dishes at your place)
- Eat well (all the food groups, in a balanced manner)
- Especially foods high in vitamins (C, E, B6 are the notable ones)
- Sleep enough (I know, I’m laughing at this one, too)
- Make meaningful connections with other humans
- Reduce your stress (family drama for example- tips on that here)
- Read some of these tips from our readers on natural immune boosters
With all these tricks up your sleeve, and a little bit of luck, perhaps you and your family will escape the clutches of the flu this year.
Here’s to your health, friends!
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Basis of factual information taken from these articles: