Let's take time out from all the holiday hub-bub to remember one fact: it's cold and flu season. December 4-10 in National Hand Washing Awareness Week and as nurses, we just HAD to take time to highlight this topic. It's a cornerstone of what we do- prevent the spread of illness. This time of year can be down right scary to lots of people. Anyone with chronic lung diseases like asthma and copd, or people with low immune systems such as transplant recipients, the elderly and very young children can end up in the hospital or even worse because of something like the flu. Yes- RNovations is a proponent of vaccines- however, whether or not you get a flu vaccine, there's something major you can do to play your part in the prevention of the spread of illness. CLEAN YOUR HANDS.
So how exactly do my hands transmit disease and what's the benefit to keeping them clean?
So here's the deal. We pick up germs from things like changing diapers, using the bathroom (everybody washes their hands, right?), handling uncooked meat that has bacteria. Lets also not forget touching other objects that have germs on them (door handles, railings, other people's hands, counter tops, etc.). Now, of course, you won't feel any different or more than likely see or feel anything on your hands, but we're talking microscopic here. Things that you wouldn't see or feel. We get these germs on our hands and then without even thinking, touch our eyes, nose, or mouth and BOOM- you've got a cold. Or the flu. Or diarrhea. Ever wonder why your small school children stay sick? It's the hands!! Think: small but mighty- a germ you can't even see has the ability to kill. Remember that. When you're in close quarters with someone who's ill (work, public, or home), wash those hands every chance you get! If you yourself are ill, let people know and wash your hands often. In both cases, keep some disinfectant handy and wipe down (have someone else wipe down) counters, doors, railings, remote controls, and anything else you've touched. So with all of this in mind, what's the benefit to cleaning your hands? What we know is that hand hygiene reduces respiratory illnesses by 16-21%. This is good news in terms of antibiotic resistance. Why? If we're preventing the spread of illness, this means we're not using as many antibiotics (and depending on what the illness is, the antibiotics are unnecessary). If we're not using a lot of antibiotics, we aren't encouraging resistance (meaning, the antibiotics don't work because the germ isn't killed by it). Antibiotic resistance increases with more use of the drug. For more information on hand washing, click here.
How do I make sure my hands are germ free?
If soap and water are available to you, that's the best option. If not, alcohol based sanitizer will do. It's important that it be at least 65% alcohol. Also important to know- when you are using hand sanitizer, you must rub your hands together (all parts including your fingers and backs of your hands) until the sanitizer dries. **If your hands are not wet for at least 20 seconds, you did not clean your hands well**. The old method of "a dime sized" drop, is not enough. You need to cover the palm of your cupped hand (more like a quarter). This should be enough. There are times though, when an alcohol based sanitizer will NOT kill the germs. If there is diarrhea involved, it's important that you wash your hands with soap and water. The CDC has a wealth of information on washing your hands. Here is a link to their site.
Who is RNovations Health?
RNovations Health is here to help. We provide community health seminars about health, wellness, managing conditions such as diabetes. There we assist people with learning the basics of their disease, medications, and treatments as well as how to make better choices one step at a time. We can help you with medication and nutrition review and counseling, that you can use to manage your health not only during the holidays, but every day thereafter. We also assist with health system navigation so that if you do need services, you are using the most effective mix of services. Give us a call at 804.386.4663 if you want to see how we can be of assistance to you or your group/community. You can also send us an email via the contact us page. We're here for you!
*The information contained above is for educational purposes only. Consult with your physician before making any changes to your diet or treatment regimen. Links provided above do not constitute and endorsement of any organization, rather that the information on the linked page has been verified.