How to Control Viral Infections
The onset of winter brings in its wake cough, cold, fever and flu; the results of viral infections. Viruses are microscopic hijackers. They invade healthy cells and use them to multiply into more viruses. The constant production of new viruses kills the healthy cells making you sick. Some infections can spread indirectly by person to person, and some infection direct by germs, bacteria, fungi etc.
Viral infections are difficult to treat, as medicines that travel through the bloodstream, do not affect them. Antiviral medicines are few and not always effective. The best way to escape viral infections is preventing transmission of viruses.
How do germs spread?
Germs can spread through:
- Blood (e.g. Hepatitis B. HIV)
- Contact (Faecal-oral transmission – e.g. Gastroenteritis, typhoid)
- Droplets (e.g. Influenza)
- Airborne (e.g. Chicken pox, tuberculosis)
- Vector borne (e.g. Mosquito borne – malaria dengue, cikungunya; tick borne – scrub typhus)
How do viral infections like upper respiratory infections spread?
- Upper Respiratory Infections are generally spread by droplets and are rarely airborne.
What precautions should be taken when someone has an upper respiratory infection?
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- When coughing or sneezing at that time Cover your mouth and nose with a cotton cloth. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Hand washing is the best way in prevention of majority of infectious diseases.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Stay at home when you are infected. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
- Practice other good health habits: get good sleep, be active, manage your stress, drink plenty of liquids, and eat nutritious diet.
How does one prevent getting vector borne diseases?
- Avoid eating or drinking unhealthy foods (e.g. Panipuri).
- Drink clean – bottled/boiled water.
- Wash hands frequently.
- The Right Way to wash your hands
The skin is the largest organ in the human body and has a surface area of about 1.5 to 2.0 square meters.
When should I wash my Hands?
- After returning home from outside
- After coughing, blowing nose or sneezing.
- Before handling food.
- After playing with animals.
- After using the toilet.
- After playing.
- Before and after meeting a sick person.
- After handling garbage.
How should I wash my hands?
Hands should be washed for at least 15 seconds or longer if visibly soiled. You can use the following steps for effective hand washing.
- Remove hand jewelers like rings.
- Wet hands thoroughly
- Use soap and lather well
- Scrub the palms, between fingers, under nails, back of the hand, thumb and wrists.
- Rinse thoroughly.
- Protect your hands as you leave the toilet.
Should one wear a mask when travelling, to prevent catching a cold?
- Wearing a mask routinely is not shown to have any effect and may increase the likelihood of developing infections.
- Masks can be worn when in contact with a person know to have a transmissible infection.