The recent outbreak of the coronavirus and my clients’ questions and discussions surrounding this topic has inspired me to write this article. Many different types of microorganisms exist in the world. Face it; viruses and bacteria surround us. However, some individuals become infected, and while others are not affected when exposed to the same microbes. Why? Lifestyle factors and the immune cells’ defense response to stressors help make this determination. Personal precautionary approaches need to put into place when it comes to helping prevent bacterial and viral infections. To that end, I will discuss ways you can help yourself stay healthier, as I share the practices I do.
First, it’s essential to strengthen your immune system. Eat fresh and nutritious food, stay well hydrated throughout the day, and get enough rest and sleep. Stress lowers the body’s defense system. Learn to cope with stress as a necessary component when it comes to achieving wellness and building stamina. Starting your day with meditation and allowing for personal relaxation time is effective in reducing the effects of stress.
Personal hygiene is vital when it comes to preventing the spread of bacteria, viruses, and infections. How many times a day you touch your face? It’s critical to refrain from touching the eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. These areas of mucous membranes are easy entry points into the body, affecting the respiratory system, the nasolacrimal passageway, and body tissues, including the brain. Different from bacteria, viruses are parasitic and need a host to grow, reproduce and survive.
Hand washing is the best practice to prevent infection. It can also ward off the common cold. To properly wash the hands, start with using warm water to remove the oils in the skin that harbor germs. Apply soap to wet hands. Rub the palms together to create a lather. Be sure to clean the backs of the hands, wrists, between the fingers, and scrub the fingernails. Wash for 20-25 seconds, as long as it takes you to sing the Happy Birthday song two times. Rinse the soap off well and dry the hands thoroughly. Use a clean towel, paper towel, or air dryer.
When to Wash the Hands
Before preparing food and before meals.
- Using the bathroom
- Blowing the nose or sneezing
- Being with someone sick
- Handling garbage
- Touching used dog waste bags
- Changing a child’s diapers
Keeping Hands Clean
When using public bathrooms, open the door using a paper towel, sanitizing wipe, or a piece of your clothing. You never know if the last person who opened the door washed their hands. In an elevator, use the elbow to push the buttons. If a door can be pushed open, use the forearm instead of the palms the hands. You can also use your foot to push the bottom of a door open and then use the elbow to open fully.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), when you sneeze or cough, the droplets can travel, at rapid speed, as far as five to eight feet. They can also stay alive and active in the air for up to 45 minutes. When you sneeze or cough, cover the mouth and nose with a tissue and discard it in the trash or flush it down the toilet. Do not sneeze or cough in the hands. If you don’t have a tissue, then sneeze or cough into the inside of the elbow to prevent the droplets of germs from becoming airborne. Viruses can remain active for minutes up to weeks. Bacteria can live on surfaces for much longer.
When Someone is Infected
To stop the spread of bacteria and viruses, avoid contact with others if you are sick, and vice versa. Avoid sharing bodily fluids as with kissing and sexual contact. Do not touch others’ used tissues or napkins. Refrain from using the same bath or hand towels. Do not share eating utensils. If you have a cut or wound, clean it with soap and water, apply an antiseptic, and keep it sealed. Disinfect common surfaces, such as door and faucet handles.
Coming Clean on Hand Sanitizers
If you do not have access to soap and water, hand sanitizers will help kill many bacteria and viruses, but not all. Sanitizers are not in place of handwashing. If you choose to use them, I recommend organic hand sanitizers like:
- EO Hand Sanitizer Spray
- Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hand Sanitizer Spray
- CleanWell Botanical Foaming Hand Sanitizer
- Hempz Triple Moisture Herbal Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer
The above sanitizers contain no harsh chemicals or synthetics like conventional hand sanitizers. You also have the option to make your sanitizer using cheap vodka, aloe vera gel, tea tree and lavender oils, and vitamin E oil to soften the hands.
Sanitizers help decrease the number of microorganisms found on the hands. Apply to the entire hand, between the fingers and around the fingernails. Rub thoroughly until dry.
Sanitizers do not kill all types of bacteria and viruses, such as salmonella, E. Coli, MRSA, C. Diff, and the norovirus, which is a contagious virus that occurs on cruise ships and causes vomiting and diarrhea. Vigorous handwashing with soap and water, as soon as possible after contact, is recommended for these bacteria. If the hands are filthy, hand sanitizers are not as effective at ridding the hands of unwanted microorganisms.
Note: Hand sanitizers, both organic and conventional, need to be stored away from small children, for if accidentally swallowed, it can be fatal due to its alcoholic content.
Where to Use Hand Sanitizers
- Steering wheel after valet parking
- Shopping Cart
- Computer keypad
- Remote controls
- Shared office computers and copiers
- Fitness center equipment
- Store check-out counter keypads
- Gas station fueling handle and keypad
- After handling money
- Airplane TV monitor, tray table, and armrests
- Sanitize your cell phone daily
After applying all of the above practices, and you still get a viral or bacterial infection, rest and let time and the body heal itself. Bacterial infections respond to antibiotic treatment. Viruses are not treatable with antibiotics or other medications. If you are at high risk or experience high fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, or dizziness, seek medical care immediately.
Note: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult with your doctor first before starting any new practices or health programs.
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