“The common cold and flu can spread from person to person in several ways,” explains board-certified internist Mindy Houng, MD, Practice Director from the Saint Barnabas Internal Medicine Faculty Practice. “The most common include breathing in air with droplets produced by coughing and sneezing, touching something with the virus on it (such as a counter top or door knob) and then touching the mouth, nose or eyes,” she says.
Symptoms of colds and flu vary and may include one or more of the following: runny nose, congestion, sore throat, general weakness, fever, loss of appetite, coughing and sneezing.
Dr. Houng offers the following tips to keep kids and families healthy:
● Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, or cough into your sleeve.
● Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs are easily spread this way.
● Wash your hands often and after you sneeze. Use hand sanitizer when unable to wash your hands.
● Give each member of the household their own hand towel. Use different colors to help family members identify their own.
● Use child-friendly soap to encourage kids to wash their hands frequently and teach them to lather up their hands in the soap while singing the Happy Birthday song three times.
● Keep a safe distance from person who is sneezing and coughing.
● Regularly clean common surfaces such as countertops, telephones and chairs.
● If you are ill with the flu, stay home to avoid infecting others.
For further protection Dr. Houng stresses that now is the time to get vaccinated against the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year, especially those who are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia. “Those who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease, pregnant women and people 65 years and older along with their loved ones, house hold contacts and caregivers should get vaccinated,”
To schedule an appointment with an internist on staff at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, please call 1-888-724-7123.