Viral Infection Symptoms – Fall & Winter
with tips on prevention
It’s what’s on every parent’s mind right now—colds and flu! With those pesky germs lurking in daycare centres, schools and even your workspace, it can sometimes seem like an uphill battle. It’s winter and it is viral season, and anything less than a time machine trip back to July means there’s no going back. As a physician, I can count on my office and emergency room being filled with high baby temperature, symptoms of ear infection, kids and adults coughing, wiping their noses, and suffering with vomiting and diarrhea for at least the next three months or so. This is life in Canada during the fall and winter “sick” season, much to a parent (and doctor’s!) chagrin.
This is life in Canada during the fall and winter “sick” season, much to a parent (and doctor’s!) chagrin.
Thankfully, there are some preventative measures you can take to avoid bringing these illnesses into your home.
Keep hands clean
I know you’ve heard it a million times, but washing your hands with soap and water—and doing it often—or using a sanitizing gel or spray really does decrease the risk of getting viral and bacterial infections. Ensure you wash for 20 seconds or more (as long as it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice).
Let’s say this: if it’s a hole on your face, don’t be touching it
Hands Off Your Face!
Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes whenever possible. This is how bacteria and viruses take hold—by entering your body through mucous membranes, the majority of which happen to be – surprise! – on your face. Let’s say this: if it’s a hole on your face, don’t be touching it. Avoid rubbing or putting your hands on your face throughout the day and always wash your hands before eating since your hands will be in close proximity of your mouth nose and eyes. Again: If you’re going to touch it, pick it, rub it, or caress it—wash first.
Consider cleaning these surfaces often (and encourage others to do the same), or keep hand sanitizers close by and ready to use after you use public places.
Keep Surfaces Germ-Free
Viruses and bacteria can live on surfaces for hours or even days. That public keyboard, phone, doorknob, pen, and water cooler are likely covered in illness-causing germs. It’s a gong-show of virus and bacteria anywhere a human hand has lingered during the winter season, because you can’t count on everyone to be as diligent as you are at washing. Consider cleaning these surfaces often (and encourage others to do the same), or keep hand sanitizers close by and ready to use after you use public places. Antiseptic wipes are great to keep on hand in your office space, and can also be used to swipe headsets and keyboards you may borrow.
Your heart will become stronger, and your immune system will be better able to fight infection if you are healthy and active.
Getting your heart rate up every day (ideally for at least 30 min) can help stave off illness. Your heart will become stronger, and your immune system will be better able to fight infection if you are healthy and active. If you are already sick, follow this simple rule of thumb: if you are sick above the neck with sneezing and congestion, go ahead and exercise. If you have a high fever, cough or chills, get some rest and resume exercise when you are feeling better. Rest up to work out.
Most studies demonstrate mixed results in the prevention and treatment of common viruses but one treatment worth considering is honey.
Dry Cough Treatment and Other Herbal remedies
Over the years we’ve heard about many medicines and herbal remedies touted as preventive magic for colds and flu, including high dose vitamin C, Echinacea, and zinc to name a few. Most studies demonstrate mixed results in the prevention and treatment of common viruses but one treatment worth considering is honey. Limited evidence shows it can prevent infections and shorten the duration of illness, and is a great cough medicine for kids. Please check with your doctor before trying medicines or herbal remedies, especially if you are taking other medication where drug interactions are possible.
The Flu Shot
The flu shot or mist are great defences against the influenza virus. You cannot get the flu from the shot or spray, but mild fever, aches or a runny nose are common side effects.
See more on Ways To Protect Your Family From Viruses.
Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.