Steps Everyone Can Take to Prevent Coronavirus, the flu, and Other Airborne Illnesses

If you’ve been following the news, it’s easy to get scared about headlines covering the coronavirus. While there are reasons to be concerned, there are also steps you can take to help reduce your risk of contracting coronavirus — along with the flu and other airborne infections, like the common cold — that cause respiratory illness.

The coronavirus describes a group of common viruses that have crown-like spikes on their surface when viewed under a microscope. The new type of coronavirus making headlines is known as COVID-19. While COVID-19 and the flu cause similar symptoms, they’re caused by different viruses.

Viral illnesses like COVID-19 and the flu typically spread through respiratory droplets from an infected person who coughs or sneezes. When exposed to these substances, you can often become infected by breathing them in or by touching infected surfaces and then touching your nose, mouth, or eyes.

Dr. Brandon Fletcher offers personalized, preventive care for men, women, and children at Nostalgia Family Medicine in Longwood, Florida. He recommends taking these simple steps to protect your entire family from airborne illnesses, ranging from the flu to coronavirus.

Wash your hands often

Regular hand washing is always crucial to staying healthy, but it’s even more important when trying to avoid illnesses like coronavirus and the flu. That’s because your hands come in contact with a lot of surfaces throughout the day, which can expose you to bacteria and viruses.

Before eating or after using the bathroom, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you don’t have access to soap and water, Dr. Fletcher recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol to kill off viruses. 

You should also clean your hands thoroughly after blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing.

Practice good respiratory hygiene

Your mom may have told you to cover your nose or mouth with your hand to be polite. But, if you’re sneezing or coughing, this is the fastest way to spread viruses. Instead of using your hand, use your bent elbow or a tissue to cover a sneeze or cough, and be sure to dispose of the tissue in a closed bin immediately. And, remember, wash your hands. 

In addition to covering your nose or mouth, also clean and disinfect any objects or surfaces you frequently touch with wipes or household cleaning sprays to prevent the spread of infection. 

Avoid close contact

Don’t worry, you shouldn’t need a mask to reduce your risk of infection. The CDC only recommends taking this step if you have symptoms of COVID-19, are a health care professional, or are caring for someone with the illness. However, if you notice someone coughing or sneezing, play it safe, and don’t stand too close. 

When someone with the flu or coronavirus cough or sneeze, the tiny droplets from their nose or mouth could contain the infection. Dr. Fletcher recommends maintaining at least a 3-foot distance whenever possible. You should also avoid shaking hands, kissing someone who seems sick, or coming in contact with contaminated surfaces, like somebody’s phone, a doorknob, or handrail.

Stay home if you’re sick

You may think you’re a model employee by going to work when you’re sick, but you’re only spreading the infection by going out in public. Even if you only have a headache or runny nose, you should stay home until you recover.

COVID-19 can cause symptoms that range in severity from mild to severe, and they usually begin 2-14 days after exposure. Coronavirus and the flu can have very similar symptoms, including:

However, it’s also common to have shortness of breath or difficulty breathing with COVID-19 because it often causes pneumonia in both lungs. 

Seek medical attention

If you have respiratory symptoms — especially if you’ve been traveling recently or in contact with someone who has — contact your health provider as soon as possible. They can provide additional information on diagnosing your illness, whether COVID-19 or flu cases are increasing in your area, and what steps you should take to ensure a healthy recovery.

At his private practice, Dr. Fletcher offers direct primary care for patients of all ages. His simple, compassionate, and effective approach includes comprehensive preventive services like in-house lab testing, intravenous (IV) therapy, and EKG heart monitoring, and he also dispenses basic medications.

For more information on preventing coronavirus, the flu, and other airborne diseases, contact us our Lake Mary/Longwood office near Orlando, by calling or requesting an appointment online today.

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