Clean Air Means Less Sickness
Whether you’re enjoying the last few weeks of winter, or you’re preparing for the next season – one of the things we all hate the most about that time of year is getting sick. Although it’s easy to get sick at any time of year, for some reason winter is a favourite. Well, it’s not really “for some reason” – there is actually a good reason behind it – the simple fact that in winter, we spend more time indoors. That means we’re more likely to be stuck in a room with someone else who is sick – and there’s no escape… unless we are keen to sit outside working in the snow (or playing a frost covered playground).
There are a number of common illnesses that are more prevalent in winter, and some of these can actually be quite detrimental to our overall wellbeing (even lasting right through the summer months as well) so it’s important that if we want to stay healthy – we look after our air quality, and ourselves!
Common Airborne Ailments
So what are some of the most common airborne illnesses and how do we get them?
The Flu: Of course the most dreaded winter sickness is the flu. And no, we’re not talking about the man-flu (which is usually nothing more than the common cold, but with a lot of whining behind it). We’re talking about the ACTUAL flu. The flu is a respiratory bug that can be caught by being near someone who sneezes, coughs or spits when they talk to you! Not pretty. You can even get it from touching a tap, bench, fridge door, toilet door – anything that might have particles on it. And the symptoms of it are a whole lot worse – including fever, headaches, dry cough, sneezing, watery eyes. It can also cause vomiting and nausea and if your immune system is low, you are a child or you’re elderly, the symptoms can be much worse than someone who is generally healthy.
Common Cold: The common cold might feel as though you have the flu, but it’s actually a lot milder and might include coughing, sore throat and a runny nose.
Chickenpox: Although becoming more rare as children become immunised against it (depending on where you live – some countries, like Australia, offer the immunisation to all children for free); chickenpox is transmitted through the air or by touch. It’s basically little red blisters that are itchy, and can cause fever and other symptoms of generally feeling unwell. Measles is another one that is becoming less common thanks to immunisations.
Hand, Foot & Mouth: This is one every parent of a child in daycare or school dreads. It is extremely common and is spread through saliva, faeces and other bodily fluids. Spreads very easily from child to child and can result in fever, and blisters that appear on the hands, feet and around the mouth. It also shows up on the groin area, and it can create painful ulcers in the mouth that make eating difficult. Generally this only affects children, and there are numerous strains – which means even if your child has already had it 10 times, they could still get it again (just not as bad).
Whooping cough: This is another parents dread, particularly those with very young children and newborns as it can actually be deadly. It causes the airways to swell and results in a hacking cough that makes it hard to breathe. Thankfully, again, this is much less common these days thanks to immunisations, but it’s important that adults realise they need to get booster shots if they want to stay immune to it! (just ask some of my friends who have been diagnosed in the past 5 years who had no idea they were no longer immune!)
There are a number of other, less common, airborne illnesses as well, such as anthrax, diphtheria and meningitis – but just because they are rare doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
How To Help Stop The Spread
So what can you do to help stop the spread of airborne illness, so we can all get out there and enjoy the winter – rather than ending up in bed?
Get your vaccinations. Some of the ones we’ve mentioned above have vaccinations for them, so this is your best bet. Ensure you, your partner, kids and family are all immunised against things like whooping cough, measles and chicken pox. If you’re not sure, head to your doctor and they can actually do tests to check (pregnant women often get these checks for free – depending on where you live).
Stay home if you’re sick: As tempting as it might be to go to work and start coughing all over your boss, stay home. It’s not just your boss that will suffer – it’s the people on the bus or train, your colleagues, even the local sandwich lady.
Enhance the indoor air quality: Use a vaporizer to help ease the symptoms, and the purifier to get rid of all those nasty bugs that are swimming around in your air. This will help to protect your family and friends in the home as well.
Wash your hands, wipe your nose, dispose properly: Good hygiene is a must. And if you can teach your kids the same habits, then you’re onto a winner. Wear a hospital mask if need be, and use a tissue to cover your nose if you cough or sneeze. Wash your hands regularly and carry some hand sanitiser with you, just in case.
Winter can be a miserable time of year for those who hate the cold; or it can be the best time of year for those who love it – either way, the last thing you want is to be stuck in bed the whole time feeling horrible. Take precautions and keep the air quality clean to prevent illness.