How to Protect Yourself Against Viruses and Bacteria

Climate and environment blog

Colds, flu and other diseases are easily spread between people, but there is much you can do to protect yourself from being infected by both viruses and bacteria.

How to avoid infection

  • What is a virus?
  • What is a Bacteria?
  • How do viruses and bacteria spread?

How to avoid infection

Many of our most common diseases come from a virus or a bacterium, and they come in thousands of variants. Only a common cold virus is found in hundreds of variants and it is therefore difficult for the immune system to be prepared to deal with all of them. However, there are some things you can do yourself to minimize the risk of getting infected.

1. Strengthen the immune system

The immune system is your most important protection against many types of viruses and bacteria and you can do a lot for the immune system yourself.

Top up with vitamins that contain trace elements that are important for immune system cells. One of the most talked-about vitamins that also act as an antioxidant is vitamin C, but also vitamin D and the mineral zinc act as antioxidants. Don’t forget to make sure to eat a varied diet, sleep well and drink water.

2. Have good hygiene

Be sure to wash your hands carefully and often, especially after toilet visits, before meals and if you have stayed out among many people. Use soap and warm water and preferably follow up with hand spirit afterward.

However, hand spirit only helps against bacteria and some viruses, so if possible it is always best to use soap. You can also keep away from people who cough or sneeze and avoid large crowds when it’s cold.

Also, avoid touching your face, especially if you have not washed your hands before. You who are ill should cough and sneeze in the arm fold to reduce the spread of infection.

Does oral protection against viruses help?

No, mouth protection rarely helps against being infected by a virus. On the contrary, research has shown that people who wear a mouthguard are at greater risk of getting sick because they touch their face when they put on and take off the mask or adjust it.

The hands are often carriers of bacteria and viruses and these are then spread to the mucous membranes of the face. However, the mouthguard can to some extent limit how much you are sick spreading infection around you, as it catches some of the droplets that come out when you cough or sneeze.

Tip! Be careful when washing your hands. Do not forget to use soap between the fingers, on the outside of the thumb and around the cuticles. Soak your hands for at least 20 seconds, then rinse with warm water.

3. Clean surfaces that can be infected

Because some bacteria and viruses can survive on tables, handles, and buttons for a long time, it may be a good idea to clean these surfaces, especially in the home. Disinfect the surfaces using, for example, colloidal silver, which has bactericidal properties. A good tip is to mix a solution of water and colloidal silver in a spray bottle for effective cleaning. Colloidal silver can also be used to purify water.

You can also use detergent, chlorine or soap to clean at home after someone in the family has been ill. Be sure to clean all surfaces that you usually touch – lamp buttons, flush button on the toilet and door lock are easy to forget.

Tip! Our computers, tablets and phones can accumulate a lot of bacteria, so be sure to clean them too. A damp cloth with water and detergent works great.

What is a virus?

A virus is a microorganism that cannot propagate or spread on its own. Instead, the virus must have access to living cells of, for example, a human and reproduce from there.

The result when a virus gets attached to the body is that an infection occurs, such as when you get a cold, flu or winter sickness. It is possible to vaccinate against some viruses and against some there are medicines, but they cannot be treated with antibiotics.

What are bacteria?

A bacterium is larger than a virus and is a single-celled organism. It can proliferate and spread on its own and can survive and divide outside living cells, for example on a door handle. Bacteria cause, just like virus infections in the body, but these can be treated effectively with antibiotics (eg penicillin).

Many infections also heal completely without medication. Some diseases caused by bacteria are salmonella, streptococci, and chlamydia. Bacteria in a particular form are also found naturally in the body, for example in the stomach, intestines, and mouth, where they protect against external bacteria that try to enter the body.

How does viruses and bacteria spread?

Viruses and bacteria can spread similarly, but different viruses and bacteria can have different high infectious risks. For example, the winter sickness (Calicivirus) spreads very easily between people.

Some of the most common ways that infection is spread are:
Direct contact between a sick person and a healthy person when they touch, touch or kiss each other. It is common for skin infections such as piglets to spread through direct contact infection.

Indirect contact, for example, via a door handle. How contagious the contact surfaces are depended, among other things, on the type of virus/bacterium, humidity and how many people have touched the surface. The infection gets into the body by a healthy person first touching the infected surface and then at one of the body’s mucous membranes.

Drip infection, that is, an infected person coughs, vomits or sneezes so that small droplets are spread over a large area. The droplets contain virus particles that either end up in the eyes or mouths of healthy people and thus enter the body directly, or land on their hands and are introduced into the body when the person pokes in the mouth, nose or eyes. The droplets can also fall on objects and surfaces which can then cause indirect contact infection.

Airborne infection, which is really a kind of prolongation of drip infection. When a sick person coughs, sneezes or vomits and the droplets spread in the air, they can sometimes remain in the air for a long time, be carried away through ventilation or moved with floor dust that swirls up. Healthy people breathe in the particles and become infected, even though several hours have passed. This is especially common in vomiting diseases.

Other types of infection are blood-borne infection, insect-borne infection and intestinal infection. The most effective way to avoid all these types of infections is to wash your hands frequently and carefully, avoid touching your face as well as avoiding close contact with sick people.

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