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Wash Your Hands to Fight Flu

Jan 10th, 2013

fight fluWe are in the middle of two virus attacks at the start of 2013 – a record-breaking flu season and the quick-spreading norovirus, which causes gastroenteritis.

These viruses are easily spread and cause severe physical discomfort. Infected patients endure a week or more of fever, body aches and, in the case of norovirus, vomiting and diarrhea. The flu claims thousands of lives each year, including relatively healthy individuals.

How can we protect ourselves from being part of the statistic? Experts agree that the best way to handle this problem and fight flu is with proper hand washing.

“People need to learn to wash their hands and wash them well,” said Jeanne Matthews of Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies in Washington, D.C. “Hand washing protects you, and it keeps you from spreading any viruses you may have to anyone else.”

“Certainly teaching your kids early on to wash their hands frequently is one of the most important things you can do,” Matthews said. “Having the flu in the house doesn’t have to be a family affair.”

Hand washing offers effective protection even if you’re surrounded by sick people. Viruses live and are spread through tiny droplets of saliva and mucus. They can enter through people’s mouths or noses and start an infection. Many viruses can live outside the body and spread through inanimate objects like desks, computer keyboards and mice, remote controls, and even dishes.

Influenza can spread via droplets in the air; these droplets have a limited range of a few feet. To avoid spreading the disease, it’s important to teach people to cover their mouths when sneezing.

“You cough into your sleeve, or you cough into a tissue and then throw the tissue away and then wash your hands,” Matthews advises.

Hand sanitizers that kill viruses and bacteria are also available everywhere, but they may not be enough to do the job, so relying on them alone may be risky. According to a study by the American College of Preventive Medicine, norovirus can still spread despite using hand sanitizers.

Hand washing has been proven to be more effective against bacteria and viruses compared to hand sanitizers.

Vaccination and staying at home when you are sick can also help stop the spread of diseases.

“The first recommendation that we have is for everyone to get a flu shot. It’s never too early or too late to do that,” Matthews says. “Even if you have flu in your family it is a good way to protect yourself. “

Ideally, people should stay home and away from the public when they are sick. Naturally, experts point out, too many people ignore this important advice, they said.

Source: VISTA Health Solutions

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