There are many simple things you can do to lower your risk for developing a lower respiratory tract infection. Dr. Patel, can you give us some prevention tips?
Sure, Dr. Flemings. The best ways to prevent the spread of infection are cleanliness, a strong immune system, and vaccinations.
Simple things you can do to keep yourself and your environment clean from harmful viruses and bacteria include:
- Always washing your hands with soap and water, especially after wiping or blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing, changing a diaper, using the restroom, and before preparing and eating food
- Using instant hand sanitizers when soap and water are not readily available
- Disinfecting or wiping down commonly touched surfaces, such as sink handles, doorknobs, railings, refrigerator and microwave doors, toys, remote controls, and electronic devices
- Using paper towels instead of sharing cloth towels, and
- Reducing contact with people who may have a respiratory infection
Ways you can boost your immune system to help it fight off infection when you are exposed include:
- Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke
- NOT using antibiotics if they aren't needed, as overuse can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Getting sufficient quality and quantity of sleep
- Reducing stress
- Eating a balanced and healthy diet
- Exercising regularly, and
- For mothers, breastfeeding, as breast milk has proven to protect children against infection, even years later
Finally, vaccinations are available for several infection-causing viruses and bacteria. These vaccinations include:
- Pneumococcal vaccinations, which help protect against infection caused by Streptococcus pneumonia bacteria, the most common cause of community-acquired bacterial pneumonia. Ask your provider if you are eligible to receive this vaccine.
- Seasonal influenza, or flu, vaccination, which can and should be received every year by everyone six months of age and older. (and)
- DTaP and Tdap vaccines, which protect against diphtheria and pertussis. Babies and children younger than seven years old receive DTaP, while older children and adults receive Tdap.