Getting rid of flu germs
Toni Lee is a registered nurse and the Director of Infection Control at Banner Estrella Medical Center.
Question: My wife and I have been “passing around” the same flu for about three weeks. First she gets it, then I get it and then she gets it. What can we do to rid ourselves of this bug without moving into different houses?
Answer: Don’t move yet! There are plenty of ways to “de-germ” your house and your significant other to make for a more healthy living environment.
Germs are spread in a couple of ways. You can either breathe them in when someone near you coughs or sneezes or you can get them from contact with surfaces where germs live. Germs usually live in our mucous membranes and are spread by frequently touched surfaces in the environment.
Here are my suggestions:
- See your health care professional to make sure the “flu” symptoms are not due to something else and get treatment if necessary.
- Clean daily all the surfaces in your house that are touched frequently with a disinfectant product. That includes: keyboards, phones, light switches, faucet handles, etc. (Make sure the product you use states that it kills germs.)
- Let the cleaning product stay in contact with the surface until it is dry. The longer it stays on the surface the more germs it kills.
- Throw away your toothbrushes and get new ones. Get your own tube of toothpaste.
- Do not share drinking and eating utensils or anything that touches the inside of your mouth.
- Use a mouthwash 4 to 5 times a day to help decrease the amount of germs in your mouth.
- Avoid mucous membrane contact until both of you are free of symptoms for three days.
- Get some hand sanitizer that contains at least 70 percent alcohol and sanitize your hands often during the day in addition to washing your hands.
If the “flu” symptoms you and your wife have include coughing and sneezing, use good germ etiquette, such as facing away from people and covering your mouth with a tissue. New etiquette also recommends that you cough or sneeze in your elbow instead of your hand and use the hand sanitizer after every episode.
Most of all, make these changes fun. Pretend it’s Laser Tag and zap those germs on you, on your wife and around the house. Believe it or not, laughter and a positive attitude boosts your immune response and helps you “heal” faster.