Staying healthy?
September 25, 2008 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Something is going around, how do I avoid it?

I'm going to be spending a day in close contact with people who are, well, sick. Seems to be symptoms of really mild cold/virus type thing. Is there anything I could do now(before I get the chance to become infected myself) or after, so I could minimize the risk that I'll come down with something?

Staying away from previously mentioned sick people is not an option.
posted by Funky Claude to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
wash your hands a lot (and try and get them to wash theirs too). Do you have access to a pharmacy? Try getting something like Cold F/X, which you take when you feel yourself getting sick.

As a side note: if you do end up getting sick, I prescribe cranberry juice mixed with Gingerale. No, seriously. The lady in the corner store by my old house recommended it to me a year ago, and I've used it every cold since. My colds used to last a week and it would take a month to get fully over it. Now they last at most three days, and take a week and a half to get over. I swear by the combination!
posted by Planet F at 12:41 PM on September 25, 2008

One word: Airborne.

My girlfriend and I have used it for years and we swear by it.
posted by karizma at 12:42 PM on September 25, 2008

Best answer: Wash your hands frequently. Try not to rub your eyes. Use hand sanitizer after touching things like doorknobs and other-people's keyboards. Don't let them sneeze on you. Don't chew on pens unless you know where they came from. Stay hydrated, well-nourished, and well-rested.

If you're like my old boss you can take Emergen-C or Airborne (Did you know it was invented by a teacher!) and then when you get a cold you can claim it didn't last as long as it would have have you not taken Emergen-C or Airborne. "Belief" is the active ingredient.
posted by bondcliff at 12:46 PM on September 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

You're better off taking vitamins than Airborne, which is essentially snake oil.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:54 PM on September 25, 2008

go to your local natural foods store and see if you can find some yin chiao. there's also a similar product called "wellness formula." it's a blend of chinese medicinal herbs. i've used it for years and find it definitely helps avoiding/reducing the duration of the sickies.
posted by gnutron at 12:54 PM on September 25, 2008

Echinacea helps boost your immune system temporarily, but will harm it if taken for long periods. Taking it for a week along with 2g vitamin C/day is a good start, but with all the other factors (stress, previous exposure, your own immune system's workings, et al) it's hard to say anything for sure.
posted by kcm at 1:06 PM on September 25, 2008

Take your chances. Nothing you can do and none of the heavily marketed products are likely to make much difference although the stress of worrying about it might have a marginal effect. Besides, it's not exactly cholera is it?
posted by rhymer at 1:17 PM on September 25, 2008

Airborne is a joke.

"There's no credible evidence that what's in Airborne can prevent colds or protect you from a germy environment," said CSPI Senior nutritionist David Schardt. "Airborne is basically on overpriced, run-of-the-mill vitamin pill that's been cleverly, but deceptively, marketed."

I would just keep your hands clean, keep them away from your eyes/mouth and make sure you sanitize communal areas.
posted by ginagina at 1:18 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: So, okay, there are several modes of transmission you can try to cover.

Some viruses (e.g. flu) can be airborne. So, if you're able, keep a window open while you're with the sickies. Or else try to meet in a large room with good (preferably fresh-air) ventilation.

Don't kiss the sickies, or share cups, spoons, etc. Bandage up any little cuts and scrapes, or other wounds you might have. For indirect contact (obviously) wash your hands, don't touch surfaces the sickies touch, and don't touch your own mucous membranes. For droplets, avoid getting sneezed-on/coughed-on, as people said. Bring enough tissues for everyone to use, and sit as far enough away as you (politely) can.

One more kind of weird one: my mom is a nurse, and whenever she boards a plane where there's a thousand people's germs flinging around in recycled air, she swabs the inside of her nostrils with (I think) petroleum jelly, or even OTC antibiotic ointment. She gave me some song-and-dance about how the inside of the nose getting dried out in-flight breaks down its usual defenses and it can't trap aerosolized particles as effectively. She swears by it, and it doesn't seem a bad idea to me. It's kind of icky at first, but you get used to the feeling after a few minutes. Also, try not to be a mouth-breather around the sickies. There's a better obstacle course in the nose (personal opinion.)

More generally, make sure you're well-fed and well-rested for Exposure Day. Good luck!

Wow, I didn't realize how...aware...I was of germ transmission until I typed this. Can you tell I work at a hospital?
posted by peggynature at 1:27 PM on September 25, 2008

Bring enough tissues for everyone to use,

*and encourage their use
posted by peggynature at 1:28 PM on September 25, 2008

Definitely wash wash wash your hand, and avoid touching your face (nose, eyes, mouth). Also avoid using doorknobs, telephones, keyboards, etc. after one of the sickly people have used them.

If staying well is top priority to you (i.e. you don't mind looking silly or potentially annoying your friends), you could add in a surgical mask.

Keep your body far enough away from them to not be splashed by sneeze juice.

I was sick not long ago and really had to go into the office. One of my coworkers lysoled the chair I'd been sitting in. :-)
posted by Stewriffic at 1:29 PM on September 25, 2008

Best answer: Yeah, wash your hands like a mental patient.

If you feel something coming on, use Zicam (the spray) ASAP and follow the directions to a tee.

It will knock out the cold. But you have to use it early. And you have to follow the directions perfectly.
posted by Zambrano at 1:30 PM on September 25, 2008

Best answer: Buy whatever herbs and drops and fizzy supplements you want, but make sure you get enough sleep. If you normally need seven hours of sleep to wake up refreshed, aim for eight. It's the only thing that has consistently worked for me. (Although I tried Airborne for the first time this month and I like it much better than Emergen-C.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:38 PM on September 25, 2008

Best answer: Politicians, who can't skip or shirk the meet 'n' greet, swear by hand sanitizers.
posted by dhartung at 1:50 PM on September 25, 2008

Chicken soup. It may or may not have proven health-giving properties, but it's worth a shot. Consider bringing a vat of hot-n-sour or egg drop soup with you. The sick people will love you.
posted by theora55 at 2:19 PM on September 25, 2008

If you can do so without offending the sick people, wear a face mask. They sell dust masks in hardware stores; those will work fine.
posted by Class Goat at 2:34 PM on September 25, 2008

Don't drink alcohol for a couple of days afterwards, it depresses your immune system. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Try to avoid stress.
posted by emilyw at 3:10 PM on September 25, 2008

1. Wash your hands any chance you get. Properly - not a cursory "run under the taps with a bit of soap" thing. For at least 30 seconds. If that's not an option, hand sanitser is a less good alternative.

2. Boost your immune system Part 1 - Zinc is the way to go.

3. Boost your immune system Part 2 - eat well, lots of multicoloured fruit and veg.

4. Boost your immune system Part 3 - if you're stressed, Vitamin B complex will reduce your stress symptoms, including boosting your immune system.

(2-4 might take a couple of weeks to have a real effect, but if you do catch something, they'll make you more likely to get rid of whatever it is more quickly)
posted by finding.perdita at 4:17 PM on September 25, 2008

1. Wash your hands often. Use a paper towel to dry off (as opposed to a communal cloth towel).
2. Don't touch anyone or anything.
3. Use hand sanitizer.
4. Keep yourself healthy. Get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids.
posted by FergieBelle at 5:45 PM on September 25, 2008

Take Quantum Cold & Flu Formula. It's amazing. It tastes terrible the first few times, but it's well worth it.
posted by cheerwine at 6:03 PM on September 25, 2008

Sleep well. Wash your hands. Use a humidifier if your house is dry.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:09 PM on September 25, 2008

Best answer: 1. Stay well hydrated.
2. If you have to touch doorknobs, copy machines, fax machines, stair rails, etc. use a paper towel or wash your hands afterward before touching anywhere above your neck.
3. Eat well, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, don't drink alcohol. Keep your immune system strong and it will reward you.
posted by Dreama at 8:45 PM on September 25, 2008

Best answer: I do this thing I call "MEGADOSE" where I take like thousands of mg of vitamin C at once, twice a day, until I think danger has passed. I know it's psychological, especially because it still works even though my vitamin C tablets expired almost a year ago, but saying "MEGADOSE" really loud and throwing down a bunch of pills with a big glass of water makes me feel the powah.

I find that the "MEGADOSE" works even better when accompanied by 8 or more hours of sleep :)
posted by crinklebat at 10:25 PM on September 25, 2008

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