Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

Many infectious diseases, such as colds, will resolve on their own. Drink plenty of fluids and get lots of rest.

Prevention

Infectious agents can enter your body through:

  • Skin contact or injuries
  • Inhalation of airborne germs
  • Ingestion of contaminated food or water
  • Tick or mosquito bites
  • Sexual contact

Follow these tips to decrease your risk of infecting yourself or others:

  • Wash your hands. This is especially important before and after preparing food, before eating, and after using the toilet. And try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands, as that's a common way germs enter the body.
  • Get vaccinated. Immunization can drastically reduce your chances of contracting many diseases. Make sure to keep up to date on your recommended vaccinations, as well as your children's.
  • Stay home when ill. Don't go to work if you are vomiting, have diarrhea or have a fever. Don't send your child to school if he or she has these signs and symptoms, either.
  • Prepare food safely. Keep counters and other kitchen surfaces clean when preparing meals. Cook foods to the proper temperature using a food thermometer to check for doneness. For ground meats, that means at least 160 F (71 C); for poultry, 165 F (74 C); and for most other meat, at least 145 F (63 C).

    In addition, promptly refrigerate leftovers — don't let cooked foods remain at room temperature for extended periods of time.

  • Practice safe sex. Always use condoms if you or your partner has a history of sexually transmitted infections or high-risk behavior.
  • Don't share personal items. Use your own toothbrush, comb and razor. Avoid sharing drinking glasses or dining utensils.
  • Travel wisely. If you're traveling out of the country, talk to your doctor about any special vaccinations — such as yellow fever, cholera, hepatitis A or B, or typhoid fever — you may need.
Jan. 05, 2016
References
  1. Facts about infectious disease. Infectious Disease Society of America. http://www.idsociety.org/Facts_About_ID/. Accessed Oct. 30, 2015.
  2. Understanding microbes in sickness and in health. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/microbes/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed Oct. 30, 2015.
  3. Ryan KJ, et al. Infectious diseases: Syndromes and etiologies. In: Sherris Medical Microbiology. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2014. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Oct. 29, 2015.
  4. Group B Strep — Transmission and risk factors. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/groupbstrep/about/transmission-risks.html. Accessed Oct. 31, 2015.
  5. Longo DL, et al., eds. Approach to the patient with an infectious disease. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2015. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Oct. 29, 2015.
  6. Razonable RR. Antiviral drugs for viruses other than human immunodeficiency virus. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2011;86:1009.
  7. Common cold. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Oct. 31, 2015.
  8. Rees JR, et al. Vitamin D3 supplementation and upper respiratory tract infections in a randomized, controlled trial. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2013;57:1384.
  9. Influenza. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Oct. 31, 2015.
  10. Stopping the spread of germs at home, work & school. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/stopgerms.htm. Accessed Oct. 31, 2015.
  11. An ounce of prevention keeps the germs away. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ounceofprevention/. Accessed Oct. 29, 2015.