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Hand Hygiene is Key! By Johanna Hicks

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Hand Hygiene is Key!

Tis the season for flu, allergies, and upper respiratory problems!  Unfortunately, sometimes these are unavoidable.  However, there are some precautions you can take to lessen your chances of infection.  These are been well documented, but a reminder never hurts!

Proper hand washing is a good health habit that is extremely important in preventing the spread of contagious illnesses, like the flu.  Wash your hands often with soap and warm water to remove dirt, debris, and germs.  Wash your hands BEFORE and AFTER: preparing meals, eating, feeding children, and giving/taking medication.  Wash your hands AFTER: diapering or using the toilet, sneezing or blowing your nose, caring for the ill, handling animals, playground use, handling garbage, after touching public surfaces, and whenever visibly dirty.

Many stores keep wipes close to the front door to use on shopping cart handles.  Make a habit of using them!  This one little action can wipe away germs left from a child’s or adult’s sneeze, an infant’s drool, or any number of other bugs!  Also, some businesses provide hand sanitizer dispensers near the door.  Again, this is a great way to help cut down on germs.

If you are a parent of a young child, there are many things you can teach your child about preventing the spread of germs:

1)      Cover your cough or sneeze, but NOT with your hand!  Turn your head away from others and use the crook of your elbow instead.  If a tissue is handy, use that, but be sure to discard it in the trash can.  Avoid leaving used tissues on a table, desk or chair.

2)      If you have a runny nose, again, use a tissue and not your hand.

3)      Droplets from your cough or sneeze become airborne and if someone gets in the path of those droplets, they can get your germs.  That’s why it is important to cover up!

4)      Wash your hands frequently.  If you sneeze or cough on your hand and then touch a door knob, car door, book, tablet, desk, toy, or other object, your germs from that sneeze can easily spread to the object.  When other people touch that object, your germs can spread to them!

5)      When washing hands, keep these three things in mind:  warm water, soap, and 20 seconds.  Teach your child to sing the ABC song while washing hands to be sure they are thoroughly clean.  Then, dry hands on a clean towel or paper towel – not on pants!

If you or someone in your family is sick, disinfect frequently-used surfaces often.  This includes toilet handles, sink handles, door knobs, chair backs (when pulling out a chair to sit down), car handles, steering wheels, light switches, refrigerator handles, etc.  Also, change out hand towels often.  As we have seen recently in one of our county schools, many children have been absent due to illness.  The parents are taking the correct action by keeping their children at home.  This can further cut down on spreading illness to other classmates!

“Respiratory etiquette” is the term being used in healthcare circles.  All of the above methods for helping prevent the spread of germs will go a long way in keeping healthy.

If you think you have an upper respiratory infection, it may be treated in a number of ways.  Several antiviral drugs are available, but your doctor will need to access if this is right for you.  Antibiotics are effective against illness due to bacteria.  If a doctor prescribes an antibiotic, use it as prescribed.  Stopping too soon may negate any good the drug has done.  Your doctor, clinic, or pharmacist can advise you on which over-the-counter medications may relieve symptoms.  If your child or teenager has flu-like symptoms or a fever, do not give them aspirin without speaking to the child’s doctor first.

People who do not suffer complications from these diseases should use common sense and follow age-old advice by getting plenty of rest, drinking a lot of liquids, and avoiding using alcohol and tobacco.  Seek medical help as soon as possible if you have difficulty breathing or have a high fever of 101° F.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Pregnant women are understandably concerned about being exposed to respiratory germs and the effect they may have on the baby. The risk to the baby depends on the gestational (in-the-womb) age of the baby, the type of virus, and the immune condition of the mother. Although babies may be harmed by these germs, the overall risk for the baby when the mother is exposed is very small. Some germs, like the rubella virus, are known to cause birth defects, but the diseases are rare. Other respiratory germs are more common, but either the mother is already immune to the disease or the disease is not likely to affect the baby.

So, there you have it!  Using good hygiene goes a long way in preventing the spread of germs!


Twogether in Texas Marriage Education Workshop

I’m thrilled to offer the free Twogether in Texas Marriage Education Workshop on February 11!  This is one of my favorite things to lead because the information is so timely, educational, and fun.  If you or someone you know plans to get married within one year, attending this workshop will save engaged couples $60 upon applying for a marriage license.  Topics covered are: marriage expectations, communication, conflict resolution, money management and goals & dreams.

We’ll get started at 8:30 a.m. with refreshments, break for lunch (which is provided!), and finish up around 3:30 p.m.  Water, coffee, and snacks will be available throughout the workshop.  As of this writing, I have four couples signed up, but I have room for more!  Please call 903-885-3443 to sign up.  See our article in each issue of Northeast Texas Bridal Magazine.


Closing Thought

Cooperation is the conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there – Virginia Burden

Johanna Hicks
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Family & Consumer Sciences
1200-B W. Houston
P.O.Box 518
Sulphur springs, TX 75483
903-885-3443 – phone
903-439-4909 – Fax
[email protected]

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Author: Staff Reporter

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