Nurses Blog – Cold & Flu Season Precautions

From our Parish Nurse, Pat Wordheide

It seems that viruses and new bacteria are a great deal of concern in all of us, especially because the flu and cold season is here. The question is what can we do about it? I have researched enteroviruses and found they have been identified for about 50 years. This is a virus group that usually goes unnoticed because it causes mild cold like symptoms and it runs its course with a runny nose, sore throat or cough and sometimes a fever. Children under 5 years of age and immune suppressed adults are most vulnerable. Recently there seems to be a shifting of the virus which is causing an increased severity in the last decade, but severe illness is still rare. Why are children, and possibly teens and certain adults vulnerable? They have not developed immunity or medicines have decreased their immunity, or people have respiratory disease that makes them more susceptible.  When you develop an infection, your body responds by developing antibodies which are then stored for use when a similar infection occurs. So what can we do to decrease the spread of this virus and all other viruses? You can help protect yourself and others from infections by— •             Washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers, Use proper hand washing technique which includes scrubbing with soap and water or disinfection liquids. Also keep your hands out of your eyes or nose as much as possible, since this is the most common entry area for infections. •             Avoiding close contact, such as touching and shaking hands, with people who are sick. •             Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, like toys and surfaces in our homes and schools or daycare. •             Keep your child home or stay home yourself whenever you are sick, and contact your doctor if you develop a fever or difficulty breathing, wheezing or chest pain. •             When you have to cough or sneeze, cough into a tissue or your elbow, and avoid coughing at others. •             Try to limit food that your children share with friends and caution them against sharing drinks or straws. Communicable diseases will always be with us, but we can be wise in the control of the spread of illness. These guidelines seem simple and common sense but remember them and teach them to your children.