Monday, January 20, 2014

Hand hygiene is best defense against illness

One simple step can keep you healthy this winter – and all year long

This time of year, it can seem like everyone you meet is sneezing, coughing – or worse. If you’d like to avoid becoming sick yourself, CoxHealth says there is one simple step you can take that will protect your health this winter, and all year long.

“Practicing proper hand hygiene is the absolute best way to prevent illness,” said Dr. Emily Mebruer, a family physician with CoxHealth Center Lebanon. “By keeping your hands clean, and avoiding touching your mouth, eyes and nose, you can prevent the spread of infection.”

The Centers for Disease Control recommends washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – about the same amount of time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. When washing, scrub your hands well, and pay attention to all hand surfaces.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is an excellent alternative when soap and water aren’t readily available. Choose a product that is at least 60 percent alcohol, use a dime- to quarter-sized amount, and rub it on all surfaces of your hands until they are dry.

“It’s a good idea to carry a small bottle of sanitizer with you,” said Dr. Mebruer.

Some final advice - remember to clean your hands:

• before eating
• before, during and after preparing food
• after using the restroom or changing a diaper
• after coughing and sneezing, or before and after caring for someone who is ill
• after taking out the garbage
• after petting animals.

Follow these simple steps to keep yourself, and your family, healthy in every season.

Image courtesy of The World Health Organization