The Truths and Myths About Flu and Cold Survival You Need To Know When About on Earth and in the Air

Grandpa and I are trying. We are trying to change habits to be safer in this cold and flu season. We are trying NOT to shake hands even when others greet us with outstretched hands, and bump fist instead. See previous post “Why We Should We Stop Teaching Our Children and Grandchildren to Hug, Kiss, and Even Shake Hands Upon Greeting Others and What We Should Advocate Instead.”

We are trying to use our sleeve to open doors, our knuckles to press elevator buttons, and to wash our hands constantly for as long as it takes to sing the birthday song or alphabet song. There is so much to be careful about and even more to learn.

Here are the best of the articles I have collected that give us the truths and myths about flu cold survival when about on earth and in the air.

COLD, SNEEZES AND COUGHS

I just read that we can have two strains of a cold at the same time.  Read “Can You Get Two Colds at Once?” by Richard Klasco, MD, March 30, 2018, New York Times.

You can also get the same cold twice.  Read, “Can I Catch the Same Cold Twice? by Richard Klasco, MD, March 9, 2018, New York Times.

My favorite article that is really a joke as it is an impossible feat is “How Do I Avoid Catching Cold or Flu From My Sick Partner? By Karen Weintraub, January 26, 2018, New York Times.

The article gives general information about avoiding a cold, but trying to do so with an intimate partner or child will just make you laugh.  More about cold symptoms and prevention below.

Now that it seems everyone has a cold, we now have to worry about strains we can catch and catch more than once.  Living in Florida we are in a better environment, being outside more of the time, than up north, but then we travel often up north, where close quarters, and crowds promote catching illnesses, so we are paying attention.

I was distressed to learn that a sneeze or cough can send germs up to 15 feet away.  We know we should cover our mouths to not spread germs, but we must learn to resist sneezing or coughing into our hands as we now have hands full of germs to spread easily to others on door knobs, elevator buttons and other surfaces you may touch.

The C.D.C., the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Public Health Association all recommend that you should sneeze or cough INTO YOUR ELBOW, not your hands.  This takes practice and breaking of the long held habit of sneezing and coughing into your hands.  Remember to remind all adults and children, often, and as it takes three months to create a new habit, it may take an entire cold and flu season to relearn this health tip.  For some interesting facts, read, “Sneeze Into Your Elbow, Not Your Hand. Please,” by Daniel Victor, February 27, 2018, New York Times.

WASHING  HANDS

We know washing hands is better than drying our hands out with Purell or other sanitizer.  Now knowing that everyone having a cold or flu is not likely to have the habit of sneezing and coughing into their elbows, so germ laden hands are touching everything we are touching, we must know how to properly wash our hands.  I teach the grandchildren to sing “Happy Birthday” or the “Alphabet Song” beginning to end as the time they should be soaping their hands.  There is a right way to wash hands, a real scientific way to avoid germs.  Take a bit of time to learn the proper method and then make it a game for your grandchildren.  See if they can remember all the steps and give a prize to the ones who can.  No, not a bottle of sanitizer!  For how to even properly apply hand sanitizer, read, “You’ve Been Washing Your Hands Wrong,” By Jonah Engel Bromwich, April 20, 2016, New York Times.

KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COLD AND FLU SYMPTOMS AND HOW TO TREAT EACH

I have given much information on a cold above and below.  A great article on the Flu, symptoms, and how to treat the condition is “In the Flu Battle, Hydration and Elevation May Be Your Best Weapons,” by Kate Murphy, January 12, 2018, New York Times.

Yes, chicken soup is the best, but when we are sick we are too sick to make it from scratch.  Buy fresh made at your local deli or head to Whole Foods for “Mom’s Chicken Soup.” Remember to Purell or use Hand Sanitzer after you ladle the soup.  The soup ladle is likely to be germ infested!

ON THE AIRPLANE

Carry travel disinfectant wipes or alcohol pads and wipe the seat handles, the seat belt, the tray and tray handle, and the television screen, if there is one.  The pocket in front of your seat is full of germs so avoid putting anything in it or touching it.  Once you are settled, wipe your hands with a disinfectant wipe.

Where you sit is important, as wearing a mask has limited value.  Sitting in a window seat is safer than sitting in an aisle seat as far as exposure to germs is involved.  There was an interesting article that said introverts like to sit in window seats and extroverts like to sit in aisle seats.  I do not buy it.  I like aisle seats so I can get up and move a bit as a yogi, and also so I do not have to disturb others to have aisle access.  I recently read that we should open the air vents to allow the air to blow germs down to the floor.  Interesting as I thought the recirculated air was the danger.  It is worth reading, if not only for interesting statistics on germs on airplanes, “How Not to Get Sick on a Plane? Choose Your Seat Wisely,” by Nicolas Bakalar, New York Times, March 22, 2018.

I love the statistic that about 35% of us use the bathroom on the airplane.  If you must, carry your disinfectant wipes if touching anything, and wipe your hands again with a disinfectant wipe when leaving the airplane bathroom.  Buy Disinfectant Travel Wipes by the four package on Amazon.

FLU SHOT

Yes, you can still get the flu even if you have the flu shot, but it is better to have the shot than not.  If you must convince yourself or another, read “Let’s Talk a Millennial Into Getting a Flu Shot,” by Daniel Victor, October 7, 2016, New York Times.If you still have doubts, read, “Is There Any Reason Not to Get a Flu Shot?” By Roni Caryn Rabin, October 6, 2017, New York Times.

Be careful and knowledgeable about TAMIFLU. Our daughter’s doctor does not like the side effects. There is a short window in which it is effective. Check this out for yourself.  See this article by Consumer Reports.

BEING CONTAGIOUS AND STAYING HOME

With a cold, we are contagious for about three days after symptoms appear, and about a week after flu symptoms appear.  To be more informed about contagion, read,” Am I Contagious?” By Richard Klasco,MD., March 2, 2018, New York Times.

I would keep a copy of the article on my desk if I go back to work coughing and sneezing and give a copy to a child or grandchild to carry to school.  But, remember the last line of the article, “So if your friend says, “I may sound bad, but I feel fine. I know I’m not contagious,” don’t take her word for it.”

We already know germs are spread most frequently by airborne “respiratory droplets” from sneezing and coughing and others are not properly protecting us by sneezing and coughing into their hands and touching surfaces.  The flu virus can last for up to 24 hours depending on the surface.  We know we are infectious even before we exhibit symptoms but when symptoms do appear, we should heed warnings to stay home from work until 24 hours after fever free and not send children to school until they are 24 hours fever free.  If diagnosed with the flu, plan on several days home.  Why?  No one really wants you at work or at school.  You are showing respect for others by recognizing you are a germ machine.  So read, “If You’re Sick, Stay Away From Work. If You Can’t, Here Is What Doctors Advise,” by Daniel Victor, November 13, 2017, New York Times.

YOU CAN PREPARE FOR COLD AND FLU

The previous article mentioned statistics about the large numbers of ill people that are in the drug store and supermarket during cold and flu season.  Think in advance for next season.  You can prepare by having staples in your home and able to avoid going to and touching items. See the list in “How to Prepare for Cold and Flu Season, by Tara Haellonov, November 17, 2017, New York Times.

This year is a banner year for great articles on colds and flu.  Too bad Grandpa and I did not have all of them at once at the beginning of the season.  Yes, we both got colds, but fortunately the over age 65 flu vaccine protected us.

Next year, I will keep this post handy at the beginning of the season and take a glance at all the links ahead of the rush. . . .especially to pick up the staples for my house.  Unless we hibernate, I think we must prepare.  Sometimes, hibernation is not so bad considering the above.

 

Joy,

 

Mema

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