There is now an excess of 200 viruses to which humans are susceptible, ranging from ones that cause a simple cold all the way to the current COVID-19 virus that’s causing a pandemic. All viruses that affect the respiratory system come with very unpleasant symptoms and can even lead to death.
It is imperative that we take every possible step to help prevent and lower the risk of transmission of a virus. So in this article, you will find tips and advice from reliable sources on how to do that.
- You Can Catch a Virus in Any Season
- How to Feel Better When Inflicted with a Cold or Flu
- How to Avoid Catching a Virus
- How to Maintain Cleanliness at Home
- How to Get Different Parts of Your Home Clean and Disinfected
- Create an Appropriate Microclimate Inside Your Home
- What Is Humidity and How High Should It Be?
- What Humidifier to Choose and How to Take Care of It
- Benefits of the Evapolar Evaporative Cooler
- Wrap Up
You are more likely to fall ill during the colder seasons, but you can get a virus at any time during the year, even during the warmer months.
Most viruses show a variety of similar symptoms, such as a runny nose, sore and itchy throat, and sneezing. You might also get a fever. The most common cause of these symptoms in humans is a group of rhinoviruses. These tend to increase in the month of September and usually dwindle out by May.
During the warmer months, the group responsible this time of year is called enteroviruses. They infect the nose, eye, throat, and digestive system tissues and often tissues found elsewhere in the body. A small amount of these enteroviruses can lead to polio, but with vaccines issued in most Western countries the risk of this is very low.
When it comes to enterovirus infections, studies show that around half of those infected never show any signs or symptoms. Across the United States, 10 to 15 million of these infections occur between the months of June and October.
You cannot cure a cold with a pill in the same way it would work for a headache, and you have to endure some inconveniencing symptoms as you are dealing with the virus. However, you can support your body in recuperating. Here are some recommendations from the CDC:
- Drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Get as much rest and sleep as possible.
- Use a humidifying or vaporizing device.
- Use saline drops or spray designed to clean your nostrils.
- A suction bulb should be used to clear mucus in babies and toddlers.
- Inhale steam during a hot shower or place hot water in a small bowl and inhale the steam from it.
- Sucking on lozenges can help ease throat issues (kids younger than four years old should not be given lozenges).
- If you are not allergic, use honey to alleviate a cough.
You can alternatively ask a pharmacist about over-the-counter treatments that can aid with improving the way you feel. If you find that your symptoms are getting worse, immediately call your doctor.
Staying at home as much as possible throughout the flu season is very important, especially when there is an outbreak of diseases that were triggered by a new virus. However, it’s not always possible, so other key preventive measures include:
- Keeping your body clean. Your hands are the main point of contact with different surfaces that viruses inhabit, so make sure you wash them regularly and thoroughly.
- Keeping your home clean. Make cleaning and disinfecting home surfaces a regular habit, especially during the flu season or when you have sick family members at home.
- Creating an appropriate microclimate. This can be accomplished with the use of a cool mist device. This makes it more comfortable to breathe and also ensures the air is cleaner.
You can think of disinfecting as a part of a cleaning routine, but the two have different meanings. Cleaning is when you wash, wipe, or scrape off dust and grime from different surfaces and materials, be it a kitchen table, bathroom tiles, or clothes. In terms of germs and viruses, this process doesn't kill them but certainly decreases their count. Therefore, cleaning of the surfaces you touch a lot should be followed by a disinfectant.
Disinfecting makes use of antimicrobial solutions that contain bleach or greater than 70% alcohol and can kill pathogens. Disinfecting every single surface in your home is not necessary — just the parts of your home that get touched a lot — but you must clean them first. Wipe down handles on the fridge, doors, and every drawer, as well as the kitchen tables. Toilets are an obvious candidate for disinfection, but faucets and sinks require the same treatment.
It's better to use disinfecting products certified by the EPA or similar organizations to make sure they are safe for domestic use.
Let’s go over some safety precautions first. When cleaning and disinfecting it is very important to wear gloves, preferably disposable ones. If you must use reusable gloves have them designated to cleaning one particular area or one particular set of items. Wash your hands after removing the gloves.
Now let’s go over specific areas and surfaces:
Always start your work in the kitchen by cleaning your working surfaces. Keep separate cutting boards for products that are ready to eat and raw meat. A dishwasher will take care of kitchenware, dishes, and cutlery, but it's good if everyone in your home has a separate set. In case they get ill, it's easier to avoid contamination.
Washcloths and sponges
Whenever possible, you should use disposable cloths or paper towels. When using reusable cloths, ensure that they are washed and disinfected. When washing, use water at temperatures of 60C or 140F as much as possible.
If you use cleaning brushes, these can be washed in your dishwasher. If you are uncertain as to their safety for the dishwasher you can always clean them with a detergent in warm soapy water after every use.
Your garbage bins also require regular disinfection, especially if you don't recycle, since pieces of leftover food rot and produce bacteria (not only the good type). Use cleaners suitable for plastic and then follow up with a disinfectant.
Use warm water and a cleaning agent to remove any visible dirt from your floors. If your floor is soiled with any type of bodily fluid you will want to clean with a disposable cloth, then disinfect. Keep children and pets away from floors when cleaning until they are completely dry.
Mops and their buckets
It's advised to have a separate bucket and mop to use with your detergent solution and another set for rinsing. Make sure all mops and buckets are cleaned after every use. Whenever possible, place mops outside to dry in the sun or in a garage or other warm part of your house.
Flush your toilet after every use to keep all internal parts clean. Use a brush with toilet cleaner every couple of days. Clean and disinfect external surfaces daily. If there is limescale, you can remove this with the help of a descaling product.
Baths, showers, sinks, and tiles
There are cleaners made for ceramic, glass, and acrylic materials that you can use with a designated rag or sponge for baths, showers, and sinks. Once everything is clean and dry, follow up by spraying a disinfectant and removing it as per instructions.
Soft furniture, carpets, and rugs
Your rugs, drapes, and carpeted floors need cleaning too. Carpeted floors and rugs can be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner while some drapes can be laundered or steam cleaned.
Non-motorized toys made of plastic or other hard materials can be cleaned by washing them in warm soapy water. These can be pat dried and left to further air dry, then put away. Non-motorized soft toys can be washed in a washing machine, and all your motorized toys can be wiped down after being sprayed with disinfectant.
It's best to avoid shaking dirty laundry, as this can cause the dispersion of the virus and bacterial particles into the air. Pay attention to care instructions on laundry items. If you're washing towels, underwater, and linen, it's good to set your washing machine on the highest temperature allowed in the laundry instructions, at least from time to time.
Multiple studies show that flu and cold viruses are less likely to survive in humid climates, including ones performed by specialists from the Mayo Clinic, CDC, and Mailman School of Public Health. Armed with this knowledge and an appropriate humidifying device you can lower your risk of being infected with a cold or flu virus.
Humidity refers to the concentration of water vapor, the gas state of water, in the surrounding air. If you don't use any special devices, the humidity inside your home depends a lot on your local climate and can vary due to changing weather conditions. However, the optimal humidity range that is deemed safe for living conditions is between 30% and 50%.
How do you measure humidity?
The device used for this job is called a hygrometer. You can easily find such a device to purchase at a local hardware store or online. Newer digital models are highly accurate.
Effects of non-optimal humidity levels
Short-lived shifts outside the optimal humidity range won't harm you, though it can be an inconvenience. A continuous drop or raise, on the other hand, can affect you negatively:
- A lasting humidity of under 30% means dry air and therefore dry skin. You might find yourself wanting more water, and your eyes and throat might become sore and itchy. Since over half a human body’s weight is water, lack of moisture can be very uncomfortable.
- A lasting humidity of more than 50% (close to 70%) might make your home smell funny. That's because constant dampness can trigger bacteria and mold growth — a health hazard, especially for people with respiratory problems such as asthma and allergies. During the hotter days, high humidity can also make a room feel stuffy.
There's a variety of humidifiers, but since studies seem to show that cool mist options are more beneficial, you might want to choose between ultrasonic, impeller, and evaporative options. No matter what type of device you go for, they all have certain requirements:
- Use demineralized water. Mineral deposits are a hassle to clean, and they can disrupt a device's functions. Try to use distilled or filtered and demineralized water, or clean the internal parts more often.
- Change the water and clean the device. Even when you use distilled or demineralized water you should change this water regularly, as well as clean the device as often as the instruction manual advises. Once you're done cleaning you will want to dry the inside. Allow it to sit and air dry even if you wipe it down. Fill it up with clean water when you're ready to use it again.
- Replace filters. If your humidifier carries a filter, change it as frequently as recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions. You should check the filter at regular intervals and clean it if it seems dirty.
Evapolar is an evaporative cooler that can be used as a cool mist humidifier. It can also be used in the room of a sick family member to provide them with additional comfort, as well as to help speed up their recovery. Evapolar has different size options, and also:
- It’s easy to clean.
- It acts as a humidifier and purifier.
- It uses a non-organic filter that doesn’t build up mold and bacteria.
This type of device is good for both your comfort and your health. It is great for times of infection, as well as for all throughout the year.
We shouldn’t be concerned about hygiene and air quality only in times of an epidemic crisis, but rather we should aim to satisfy these needs all year round. With good cleaning and disinfecting habits and the creation of the right microclimate for your home, you can ward off viral respiratory infections, allergies, and more.
What are you doing to protect yourself and your family members from cold and flu viruses? Are you practicing safe hand washing, cleaning, and disinfecting processes? Have you created an optimal microclimate in your home? Armed with the information found here you should be fully equipped to reduce the risk of infection for you and your family.