Monday, March 28, 2011

Ask Us Anything: How Can I Prevent Sickness & the Spread of Germs?

"If someone in my household has a fever, what steps can I take to prevent myself from catching it as well?"

Registered Nurse Rachel Schneiter Responds:

Registered Nurse Rachel SchneiterWhen someone in the home is ill with a fever, the best way to protect yourself is with handwashing.

Also, replacing the bathroom hand towel with paper towels may help to prevent transmission of germs.

Getting enough sleep will help your immune system work its best, so make sure that you're going to bed early enough to feel rested.

In addition, vitamin D, which is known for bone support by enhancing calcium absorption, has considerable effects on the immune system.

The body will normally synthesize vitamin D after exposure to UVB rays, but since those of us on the east coast don't see much sunlight for as much as 6 months a year, you should consider supplementing every winter to get the immune benefit.

Starting every year in about October, take 1,000 IU orally every day. You can buy this over-the-counter and discontinue taking it when we are seeing more of the sun in the spring.

Vitamin D deficiency will contribute to fatigue, depression symptoms, and muscular pain. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, talk with your doctor about monitoring your blood level of vitamin D.

A flu shot will prevent a fever related to Influenza. Persons with egg allergy should see their doctor before getting a flu shot. Many area doctor offices, clinics, and pharmacies will administer flu vaccines. Pregnant women should receive a preservative-free vaccine after 12 weeks of pregnancy. Infants older than six months old can get the flu shot also but will need a booster (a second dose a month after their first dose). Adults need one shot annually.

In conclusion, handwashing, adequate sleep, and a healthful diet rich in antioxidants will continue you on the road to maintaining wellness.

— Rachel Schneiter, RN

Rachel Schneiter is a Registered Nurse in OB/GYN services at the M. Steven Piver, M.D. Center for Women’s Health & Wellness in Buffalo. The Piver Center provides medical obstetrics, infertility treatment and other services for women.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

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