Don’t touch those magazines in the waiting room

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Several years ago while sitting in a management team meeting, I was suddenly stricken with symptoms of a particularly hideous strain of an outbreak of  norovirus that had been spreading through the hospital where I worked. Because those infected with a norovirus illness shed billions of the dreaded virus particles in their stool and vomit, the hospital protocol during this outbreak was to immediately call in a specially-trained housekeeping team wearing what looked like Hazmat suits to scrub down the staff washroom I’d just used.  Even the calendar and paper posters pinned up on the washroom’s little bulletin board were removed and destroyed.

Until then, I thought I was the only one who felt creeped out by touching paper in any public waiting room. These rooms – particularly in hospitals and doctors’ offices – are jam-packed with sick people, people!  At the best of times, I don’t like sitting in a patient waiting room, never mind voluntarily picking up any reading material while I’m there. Even people who are not coughing, hacking, snorting, sneezing or wiping dripping mucous from their inflamed noses with unwashed bare fingers can still be transmitting bacteria and viruses onto every page of those waiting room magazines.  Continue reading “Don’t touch those magazines in the waiting room”

Is it the flu or the common cold?

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

I’m writing this from my deathbed. Well, okay, maybe not quite as close to death as I actually felt yesterday, but I have been really, really ill. After four feverish, sweaty, pain-wracked days in bed, sick as a dog, this morning I dragged myself into a  steamy shower and felt almost human again. For a few minutes, anyway, until I collapsed in an exhausted heap in bed. At first, I was calling this affliction a cold, but it appears what I actually have is the flu (or influenza). Here’s what I’ve been learning about what happens when heart patients face these nasty bugs:  Continue reading “Is it the flu or the common cold?”

Germ warfare for heart patients during flu season

hands soap-waterby Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Did you know that eating refined sweets puts your body into an acidic state, just the way all those nasty pathogens and flu bugs like it?  Sugar can apparently weaken your immunity by suppressing the immune system’s macrophage cells, which act as an important defense shield by helping to remove unwanted substances from your blood  – like harmful bacteria and viruses.

handshaking buttonAnd speaking of harmful bacteria and viruses, shaking hands is a good way to spread those bugs from person to person. Although it’s a cultural no-no to refuse to shake hands, you can’t tell if those you’re shaking hands with have washed their hands properly after sneezing or coughing into them – or at all. Try a big smile instead.

With seasonal flu season in full swing, I was glad to find more healthy tips for fighting off viral attacks and surviving flu season from Janelle Sorenson, a senior writer at Healthy Child, Healthy World.  Her advice is not only good for children, but also for those – like heart patients – at high risk for serious health complications as a result of influenza.  A sampling here of just one of her 10 tips, Declare Germ Warfare   Continue reading “Germ warfare for heart patients during flu season”

How long can flu bugs survive on that doorknob?

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters door green

Internist Dr. James Steckelberg from Mayo Clinic answers this common question about the upcoming flu season:

Q: If someone has the flu or a cold and coughs into his hand and then touches a doorknob, how long can those germs live on that doorknob?

A:  The length of time that cold or flu germs can survive outside the body on an environmental surface, such as a doorknob, varies greatly. But the suspected range is from a few seconds to 48 hours — depending on the specific virus and the type of surface.  Continue reading “How long can flu bugs survive on that doorknob?”