General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

Teachers and those who work with children: how do you keep from getting sick all the time?

Asked by tinyfaery (42766points) September 29th, 2010

My wife was only back to school for 2 weeks before she caught a cold. She seems to get sick so much. She says it’s the kids; they are always sick. I tell her to wash her hands and don’t touch anything that belongs to the kids, but she still gets sick. She says there is no way not to come in contact with kid germs.

How do you keep from getting sick?

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31 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think you do.

However, in my kids’ daycare, they had wipes everywhere, and the kids were supposed to use them before or after (or both) touching anything, especially in the bathroom or anything to do with the bathroom. It seemed to have a measurable effect, but not much of one.

deni's avatar

My boyfriend teaches…it seems to be pretty much impossible. Although this year so far he is feeling better and hasn’t been sick yet and it’s been almost two months…this is impressive for him. He has been taking echinachea and/or a dropper full of this stuff called “kick ass immune” whenever he starts to feel a sore throat or even if he doesn’t and he thinks it might help in general. His doctor told him that echinachea only helps if you are already sick, but whether or not that is true, he’s still taking it. It might just be a coincidence that he hasn’t got sick yet…last year was I think…swine flu, strep throat twice, about 8 flus…. :(

SundayKittens's avatar

My first year teaching elementary, I was sick literallllyyy 75 percent of the time.
I made sure to REST, get some exercise, eat right, etc. but it didn’t do much good.

I don’t know if this is based in science, but my immune system is now strong enough that this doesn’t happen every year. I’ll get sick once or twice, but not continually. And my tip is to NOT overuse hand sanitizers. Let it in, man…get sick, then get over it. It makes you stronger. Like I said, that’s my un-scientific opinion. I think we over-sanitize.

Bottom line: You’re gonna get sick. Use precautions but don’t overdo it. Has she been teaching long?

GeorgeGee's avatar

Children in daycare through elementary school and teachers of these groups have the highest incidence of colds and flu of any groups. The most important things you can reasonably do (short of wearing a surgical mask) are 1) avoid touching your nose and eyes 2) wash your hands frequently.

Cruiser's avatar

Get the flu shot and wash your hands…that’s all you can do but it is pretty effective.

I might suggest supplements like Selenium and Vit B complex but that is a different path to pursue and should be considered on an individual basis.

shilolo's avatar

As has been said above, avoid touching mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, nose, mouth) while at school and WASH hands regularly. The alcohol rubs and such don’t work as well, but also the hand washing has to be rigorous and not just a quick 2 second rinse. Another important aspect is to get vaccinated for influenza (as has been said) as well as getting a booster shot for pertussis (whooping cough). Immunity to pertussis wanes over time, and lots of parents aren’t vaccinating their kids (!!!!!!!), leading to a breakdown in herd immunity and serious pertussis outbreaks (at least 5 DEATHS in infants this year alone!)

crisw's avatar

I think it’s impossible to not get sick. I am an IT person in a school and touch grimy keyboards all day long. Disinfect everything, wash your hands a lot, use lots of hand sanitizer, and get plenty of sleep.

tinyfaery's avatar

@shilolo There has been an outbreak of whooping cough in L.A. the past year.

janbb's avatar

I dunno. I work with hundreds of adolescents daily and don’t get sick. Are small kids that different? Think it has to do with the immunities one has or hasn’t built up.

tan235's avatar

hey with the echinachea I believe it’s a preventive, so once you’re sick it doesn’t help, however a doctor im sure will know but that’s what i’ve heard from a Naturopath.
Apple Cider Vinegar is good as well in water and getting enough oxygen, re: breathing deeply, yoga, exercise etc etc.

tinyfaery's avatar

@janbb Are you up in their faces, leaning over their desks, correcting behaviors…?

shilolo's avatar

@tinyfaery Yes, California is experiencing a significant outbreak, but it is far worse in the Bay Area despite the smaller size. Much has to do with parents in Marin County and Berkeley refusing vaccines. I don’t want to get agitated so I’ll leave it at that.

janbb's avatar

@tinyfaery Well – it’s not 200 but the ones I work with I am sharing keyboards and sitting next to. Not trying to dismiss your concerns; it probably is different with younger kids. And what @shilolo says.

GladysMensch's avatar

I’m going to site a similar situation to SundayKittens. My wife has taught in Elementary schools for nearly 20 years. She was sick all the time during her first few years. She still gets the occasional cold, but nowhere near as badly as earlier in her career. She claims that teachers build immunities to the kids.

tinyfaery's avatar

Well, she has only been teaching for four years. I’ll cross my fingers and hope that as the years pass she’ll get sick less often.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

My sister teaches 5th grade. She is rarely ill and her classes usually have better attendance than others. She claims that it is because she is insistent that they wash their hands. It’s been years since I visited her classroom, but I think there is a hand sink in the back.

Rarebear's avatar

Yup. Compulsive hand washing and alcohol-based gels such as purel.

sakura's avatar

You build up an immunity the longer you work at a place.. eventually she will start to get stronger, I ‘ve been working with children for a long time now and touch wood I’ve just started to become more immune!

MissAnthrope's avatar

It’s really, really difficult. I was a preschool teacher for a while and oh my god, I was sick constantly despite all precautions. Some of my friends finally asked, Is there ever a time when you’re not sick? and I had to laugh because.. well.. no.

The best thing is to try to teach the kids to wash their hands frequently, the teacher should do the same, and do whatever you can to keep contamination at a minimum. A bottle of bleach water squirted over the desk surfaces can help (kids’ hands = nasty!). I’d also recommend keeping a big bottle of hand sanitizer on her desk.

My mom worked in the herbal supplement industry for 25+ years and what I’ve been told is that echinacea is an immune booster, so it should be taken before you get sick. As my mom said, ‘If you’re sick and your immune system is down, there is nothing to boost.” Goldenseal can be taken once you’re full-on sick. Vitamin C can help a lot with boosting the immune system as well as helping healing.

Some other germophobe-y tricks I’ve picked up.. when someone sneezes, hold your breath for about 10 seconds to let the mist micro-particles settle down, so you don’t inhale sickness germs. Frequent hand washing, of course. Being conscious of where you put your hands (i.e. if it’s cold/flu season and I touch a doorknob, I sanitize/clean my hands) and then where you put your hands (i.e. avoid rubbing mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose, mouth).

Rarebear's avatar

At the risk of getting into a debate that nobody wants to see, I refute @MissAnthrope‘s claim of supplements to prevent/treat the cold as there is no evidence to support it. She will disagree, and that’s fine, but I’m not going to get into it here (it’s appropriate for another thread).

The best thing to do is, as I said, frequently clean your hands and also keep your hands away from your mouth and nose.

Eggie's avatar

Eating healthy and staying motivated.

Rarebear's avatar

Oh. One very clever thing my daughter’s third grade teacher did was put a hand santizer on every desk, and encouraged the kids to use them.

Kardamom's avatar

Here’s a few ideas: make sure that your OWN immunizations are up to date, make sure you get a flu shot every year, have hand sanitizer and wipes on hand in your classroom and use them (and teach the kids how to use them) use hand sanitizer after touching a kid or any object (even desks and doorknobs and light switches) that kids use. Wipe down your desk and computer keyboard and phone often. Teach the children to sneeze and cough into their elbows and use hand sanitizer afterward. Make sure the kids wash their hands after using the restoom (and make them use hand sanitzer anyway, because they lie about washing) use wipes on your lunch table before you set your tray or lunch pale upon it. Take vitamin C and a B complex everyday and then double up on the C if you start to feel the slightest twinge of a cold (also add zinc lozenges and extract of elderberry at the very first sign of a cold, DON’T WAIT!) drink plenty of fluids, get enough sleep, exercise regularly and eat healthy foods (keep healthy foods on hand in your desk: cut up fruit and vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, fiber bars) avoid junk food and soda. Don’t smoke.

Rarebear's avatar

I agree with @Kardamom except the vitamin C and b complex vitamins. There is some weak evidence to support the use of zinc, but it is weak.

tinyfaery's avatar

My wife (not me) is the one who gets sick. She rarely passes it on to me. Also, my wife teaches middle school so there is no way she can insure that the kids wash their hands.

Kardamom's avatar

If you want to read more about the effectiveness of zinc, vitamin C, elderberry and other compounds that can help prevent or alleviate cold symptoms, you can read this article from Prevention Magazine:

I subscribe to Prevention Magazine and several other “prevention”-style health advocate publications. I haven’t been sick with a cold in almost 5 years, since I started following this advice. The hand sanitizer and wipes routine started about a year ago when my father went into the hospital for heart surgery. There were hand sanitizer stations inside and outside of every patients room and the staff would use them before and after touching patients or equipment, or the sink or the doorknob etc., and they encouraged the family members to use them too. They said “infection” is the most important thing to avoid in a hospital. So it probably works for schools too.

Rarebear's avatar

This isn’t the place for a debate on vitamin therapy. If you’d like to do that, I’ll be happy to on another question.

Kardamom's avatar

This is exactly the place for a debate on vitamin therapy. That’s what fluther is all about. People give their best answers and then the person who asked the question gets to sort through all of it. That’s the way it works.

Rarebear's avatar

@Kardamom I meant on this particular question. It’s off topic.

BUT if you insist, I challange you to give me a double blinded randomized contolled multicentered placebo controlled trial that shows a clinically significant positive effect on Vitamin C and the cold. I can give you negative studies, but let’s see what you’ve got.

tinyfaery's avatar

@Kardamom Ask a new question if you are interested. That is what fluther is for.

yankeetooter's avatar

I work in a year-round school, and I rarely get sick. I think one builds up an immunity over time…or it’s all those vitamins I take…

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