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Bacteria, Viruses and Staying Healthy

Permalink 01/12/09 08:12, by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Health, Family , Tags: bacteria, food preparation, viruses

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Did you know that the human body harbours more bacteria than there are humans on the planet, or that viruses constantly mutate which is why we suffer colds year after year?!  Few of us really understand the difference between viruses and bacteria, but a little knowledge helps us to combat disease and remain healthy.

Bateria are single celled organisms, many of which are good for us or at least harmless.  Bacteria in our gut helps break down food and bacteria are used to break down sewage and oil spills.  Unfortunately, some bacteria are harmful to us and when infected, our body fights to emit them; this is why we develop coughs and colds and this is what the body is attempting when we contract food poisoning.  Bacteria can be controlled with antibiotics, drugs specifically developed to target bacteria.

Unlike bacteria which multiply by continually dividing, viruses need to attach themselves inside our own cells in order to reproduce.  Antibiotics don't have any effect on viruses and there's not much that can be done to fight them other than to leave the body to its own devices.  You might take paracetemol or ibuprofen to help reduce your temperature, but there's no medication for the virus itself - you just have to sit it out and let your body fight it naturally.  With children, the best you can do is help relieve the symptoms and encourage them to rest through the period of infection.

With little ones around the house, you'll find that bacterial and viral infections are common.  Children clustered into nurseries or playgroups spread bacteria and viruses very effectively!  Preventative steps to avoid being struck down both by bacterial or viral infections are much the same.  Here are some tips to help prevent contamination in the first place:-

  1. Make sure your children always wash their hands thoroughly after going to the toilet or using a potty
  2. Make sure your children wash their hands before they eat meals or snacks
  3. Encourage your little ones to cover their mouth and nose when they cough and sneeze and to wash their hands after
  4. Avoid physical contact with others who are suffering from coughs and colds
  5. Prepare food carefully:
    • Don't mix cooked and uncooked foods
    • Cook food thoroughly to kill any germs on it
    • Keep food covered or refrigerated before and after meals

 



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