7 Ways to Stay Healthy When Someone You Live With Is Sick

Couple sick at home on the sofa, woman checking partner's temperature

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June 12, 2024 at 6:3PM UTC
  • You can slow the spread of COVID-19 by washing your hands regularly, disinfecting surfaces and shared items, steering clear of the sick individual and creating a sick room.
  • Avoid touching your face, sharing food or beverages with sick family members and don't forget to dispose of the infected person's toothbrush once they get well.
COVID-19 is wildly contagious and spreading at a rapid rate. Sure, you can practice social distancing and only leave the house for "essential" items, but when someone you live with has contracted the virus, it can be much more difficult to keep yourself safe. 

How to stay healthy at home

If someone you live with has COVID-19, the following preventative strategies can help keep you as safe as possible.

1. Wash your hands regularly.

The most effective way to kill germs is to wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Health experts say soap can kill agents in the virus, rendering them inactive once the lipid layer has busted open and broken apart during the hand-washing process. Once this layer of fat is destroyed, the virus can no longer infect you. 
Here's a quick reference list for when and how often you should wash your hands:
  • Before and after tending to someone who's sick
  • Before, during and after meal prep
  • Before eating a meal
  • Before and after treating a wound
  • After using the bathroom
  • After coughing or sneezing
  • After petting an animal
  • After handling garbage

2. Disinfect surfaces and shared items.

You can stop the spread of germs by regularly sanitizing shared items in the home including countertops, doorknobs, faucets, refrigerators, toilet seats and tabletops. Carefully wipe down all tech devices, too, including laptops, computers, TV remotes, phones and video game controllers. You can use a disinfecting spray or disinfecting wipes to do the trick, but if none are available to you, feel free to make your own by mixing a quarter-cup of bleach with a gallon of water.

3. Keep your distance.

Steer clear from the infected individual as often as you can by socially distancing yourself six or more feet. This will help you decrease your chances of getting infected by the germs that may spread through speech, coughs and sneezes.

4. Create a sick room.

If the space is available to you, allow the sick individual to self-quarantine in a room. Stock the room with tissues, water, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and face masks. The infected individual should also have access to a tech device (such as a phone, tablet or laptop) to encourage communication and connection. And activities such as books, puzzles, movies, toys, etc. can also  help them pass the time and support their mental health and creativity while quarantining.

5. Have only one member take care of them.

If there is more than one healthy adult in the household, have one of them take care of the sick family member. This person should be the only one to go in and out of the room and should take extra sanitary precautions when moving through the home.

6.  Strengthen your immune system.

Though this is not an exhaustive list, you can pamper your immune system with the following foods:
  • Hydrate with fruits, vegetables and plenty of water.
  • Boost your microbiome health with prebiotic-rich foods like beans, bananas and garlic or probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kimchi and sourdough bread.
  • Get plenty of protein with fish, poultry, eggs, cottage cheese and nuts.
  • Grow your immune system with zinc which you can find in tofu, oysters, chickpeas, lentils and beef.
  • Vitamin D helps regulate the production of proteins that selectively kill bacteria and viruses; get your fix with eggs, mushrooms and fortified milk products.
  • Vitamin C can help your body determine what kind of protection is needed; broccoli, oranges and red and green peppers will give you plenty.

7. Consider intensive care for members with underlying conditions.

COVID-19 can be especially dangerous for individuals over 65 years old with underlying conditions. Please seek additional protection for seniors such as medical attention.

Behaviors to avoid doing, ASAP

If you want to avoid contracting the virus, avoid the following three behaviors:

1. Sharing food, beverages and sanitary items.

Avoid sharing food such as family platters or double dipping, and don't share liquids as germs can spread through saliva. Also, keep toothbrushes and towels to yourself in order to avoid cross-contamination.

2. Touching your face.

It's in your best interest to keep your hands away from your face as your hands are the most likely to contract and spread COVID-19. Avoid handshakes, wash your hands often and create new habits to avoid touching your face when you cough or sneeze.

3. Keeping contaminated personal items around.

COVID-19 can live on surfaces anywhere between 24 hours to five days — your personal items are no exception. Dispose of the infected person's toothbrush and throw away, wash or replace any other personal items that were used while they were sick.

What to do if you're the one who's sick

  1. Isolate yourself and maintain at least a six-foot distance from all family members.
  2. Cough and sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
  3. Cover your face with a mask.
  4. Throw  away used wipes and dirty tissues immediately after use.
  5. Avoid preparing food for others but if you must, wash your hands thoroughly before, during and after your prep.

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