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Nobody wants to get sick. But with so many bugs flying about, especially during the winter months, avoiding infectious diseases can seem like an impossibility.
To make matters worse, standard medical interventions are becoming less effective. Thanks to overuse of antibiotics, many diseases are becoming more challenging to treat, and some are now resistant to practically all known antibiotics.
Consider a disease which many people thought was a thing of the past: tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a disease which attacks the lungs, causing lesions and bleeding. Before antibiotics, people were sent to sanatoria to recover from their symptoms and were allowed to rest for months at a time until they got better. With the advent of antibiotics, tuberculosis became treatable and all but disappeared from wealthy countries. But now, thanks to antibiotic resistance, it’s making a comeback. Cases in Spain and Italy over the last few years are now resistant to all known treatments, including the popular antibiotic, streptomycin.
The good news, though, is that there are plenty of rational, scientifically-proven ways of avoiding bugs that you can easily practice in your own life.
Keep An Eye On The News
Many scientists predict that humanity is on the cusp a new pandemic. It’s been more than 100 years since the outbreak of the flu in 1918, and so they expect a similar event any time soon. The race is on, therefore, to develop effective vaccines to make sure that the disease doesn’t kill people in the same proportion as it did last time. Without intervention, the next deadly strain of flu could kill more than 100 million.
Although there’s nothing that the average person can do to prevent or manage a new pandemic, they can keep track of events on the news. The news is particularly useful for things like disease outbreaks because it makes for sensational headlines. Media outlets are often the first warning that people have that the disease environment has changed and that they may need to stay away from certain areas.
Bird flu in Asia, Ebola in Africa, and West Nile virus have all been reported on the news and can give you information on which regions to avoid.
Keep Your Hands Away From Your Face
Your face is essentially a collection of holes to the interior of your body. Pathogens can pass through your mouth, ears, nose, and eyes and find environments in which they can thrive. Most bugs can’t survive on your hands for very long, but your hands can be a breeding ground for bacteria simply because they are your primary mode of interaction with the world. Bugs from everything you touch get onto your hands.
In some parts of the world, it’s taboo to pick your nose with your fingers. But there might be a good reason for this besides social custom: it prevents the spread of disease. Putting your hands on your face makes it much easier for bugs to make the short journey into the warm interior environment in which they thrive. Avoid touching any mucus-covered zones (especially in your nose and mouth), and use a tissue instead.
Vaccinations, when they work, are by far the best way to protect yourself against common infectious diseases, including the flu. Read more now about it here. They provide your body with specific immunity to particularly nasty bugs and viruses, ensuring that you can go about your daily business, uninterrupted.
Many people aren’t protected against diseases because their parents didn’t want them to be vaccinated. A lack of immunization has led to a resurgence in some diseases, including measles and childhood whooping cough. Don’t risk it, especially if you’re elderly.
Don’t Use Other People’s Personal Items
Toiletries, especially razors, toothbrushes, and nail clippers, all have a surprising capacity to harbor bacteria. As a result, you don’t want to share these with anybody else, if you can avoid it.
Bacteria can live on personal items for a long time, sometimes days. And in that time, they can feed on the resources around them and grow in number, making the likelihood of infection even higher.
Some diseases, especially hepatitis, are easily transmitted through the sharing of toiletries, even between spouses. This is because many of these items contain small amounts of blood, especially razors.
Wash Your Hands
There’s a reason why hospitals insist that staff wash their hands at regular intervals: it’s by far the most effective way of preventing the spread of infection. Harmful microbes can live on practically any surface, and especially the skin, computer keyboards, light switches, oven doors, crockery, cutlery, and door knobs. Every time you touch one of these objects, you’re potentially transferring bugs to your hands and from there, to anything else you might touch. Dirty hands not only put you at risk but also the people around you. You may never get sick from dangerous bacteria on your hands, but anybody you come into contact with might.
So how do you wash your hands correctly? The CDC says that people need to wash their hands for about 20 seconds vigorously with soap and water. Recent data suggest that regular soap may be just as effective at removing germs as so-called “antibacterial” varieties. Take the chance to wash your hands every time you visit the bathroom, get back from the gym, or home from work.