Essential Housecleaning Tips for a Cystic Fibrosis Family
Anyone living with cystic fibrosis is at an increased risk of developing infections, especially lung infections. Although there are different types of germs floating around, all of them have one thing in common: once they find a livable space, they get settled and multiply.
Germs can spread through several ways, including direct and indirect contact:
- They can spread from one individual to another through direct acts of contact, including shaking hands, kissing or hugging.
- They can spread from one individual to another through indirect acts of contact, including touching an object or sharing an object with germs already on it.
- They can spread through the air in the form of droplets when an individual sneezes or coughs.
- Although rare, they may be carried by air currents to other areas.
For individuals with CF, germs are particularly harmful. In a healthy individual, when germs enter the body, the immune system attacks the germs and prevents them from triggering a disease. In an individual with CF, when germs enter the body, the immune system attacks the germs, but triggers inflammation to the lungs. This inflammation, in turn, spurs the build-up of increased amounts of mucus and blocks the airways, allowing more germs to proliferate. Despite advancements made in treatments for CF, chronic lung infections and any complications that may arise from them remain the number 1 cause of mortality in CF.
Cleaning to prevent the spread of germs
Before you change the way you clean and the products you use, keep these quick tips in mind to lower your risk of spreading and contracting germs.
- Wash your hands frequently using soap and water and do so after going to the bathroom, coughing, sneezing, touching shared objects and surfaces, cleaning, touching pets, and undergoing chest physiotherapy
- Wash your hands frequently using soap and water and do so before eating, drinking, taking your medication, cleaning, and undergoing breathing treatments
- Keep up with your vaccinations, especially the annual influenza vaccine
- Advise family members to stay up to date on their vaccinations
- Cover your mouth when you cough – “It’s our responsibility to cover mouth and nose so those droplets don’t go into the air... so they don’t spread to other people. You should sneeze into a tissue or paper towel. If you don’t have those with you, you can sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Just make sure you put that clothing into the wash at night” said James Mamary, pulmonologist.
- Steer clear of certain activities that entail frequent contact with dirt or dust
- Avoid sharing your personal items, including toothbrushes, towels, and eating utensils
- Use disposable cloths or paper towels
- Change sponges, dishcloths, and brushes on a regular basis
- Wash pillowcases and blankets on a regular basis
- Avoid bubble baths or spas
- Clean and disinfect respiratory equipment, such as a nebulizer
- Use toilet seat liners in public bathrooms
- Clean refrigerators, microwaves, and dishwashers on a regular basis
- Do not leave laundry in the washing machine
- Keep the toilet lid down when flushing
- Avoid areas where demolitions are taking place, such as home renovations and construction sites
- Avoid contact with individuals who are sick
- Stay at least 6 feet away from individuals who also have CF to prevent cross-infection
Read on to learn how to change your cleaning routine and living space to minimize the spread of germs and risk of infection.