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A simple & effective health habit

By Guest Columnist Dr. Stephanie Duguid

During the Covid-19 health pandemic, hand-washing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Yes, the power is in your hands to prevent many conditions. Washing hands is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs throughout an entire community -- at home, school and work.

According to Will Sawyer, MD, an international infection prevention expert, true disease prevention encompasses:

  1. 1. Not touching the T-zone -- the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose, and mouth

  2. 2. Regular hand-washing

  3. 3. Vaccinations

Imagine how great it would be if you or your family were never sick again from a respiratory infection. This can include diseases such as flu, common colds, conjunctivitis, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, strep, coronavirus, and more.

The T-zone is the portal of entry into our body for majority of diseases. ALL respiratory infections. Gastrointestinal diseases.. If you never touch those mucous membranes with a dirty (contaminated) finger, you will not be sick again from a respiratory or gastrointestinal illness.

The American Medical Association and American Academy of Physicians cite "Four Principles of Hand Awareness" behaviors to ensure you stay well:

  1. 1. Wash your hands when they are dirty and before eating

  2. 2. Do not cough into your hands

  3. 3. Do not sneeze into your hands.

  4. 4. Above all, do not put your hands in your eyes, nose, or mouth (T-zone).

What actually happens to the surrounding environment when you cough or sneeze? According to "Inside Science," a news site supported by the American Institute of Physics, an average cough forces about 3,000 droplets out of the body at around 50 miles per hour. On a much grander scale, ONE human sneeze releases around 40,000 droplets into the air, which travel at an astounding 200 miles per hour

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of microbes on your hands.

You can help yourself and others stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during the key times when germs are likely to get on your hands, and can easily spread to others:

  • • Before, during, and after preparing food;

  • • Before eating food;

  • • Before and after caring for someone who is sick;

  • • Before and after treating a cut or wound;

  • • After using the bathroom;

  • • After changing diapers;

  • • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing;

  • • After inserting or removing contact lenses;

  • • After shaking hands with others;

  • • After touching an animal, animal food, or animal waste;

  • • After touching garbage;

  • • Whenever your hands look dirty.

What is the best way to wash your hands? CDC advises:

  1. 1. Wet your hands with clean, running water, warm if available, and apply soap.

  2. 2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers including your thumb, and under your nails.

  3. 3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds (hum the “happy birthday” song twice).

  4. 4. Thoroughly rinse your hands under clean, running water.

  5. 5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

  6. 6. If possible, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet (and to open the door in public facilities).

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Note: while alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situation, they do NOT get rid of all types of germs.

Only you are responsible for giving yourself the flu or flu-like illnesses. Help to “spread the word, not the germs.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Stephanie Duguid is Dean of Academic Instruction at Co-Lin. She is also an athletic trainer and nutrition specialist and has been teaching courses related to those two areas as well as practicing what she preaches for more than twenty years.


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