With the cold and flu season in full swing and the pandemic worries of recent years, we all want to do everything we can to avoid getting sick. In contrast to bacterial infections, which can be quickly remedied with a round of antibiotics, diseases caused by viruses such as influenza or the common cold often require perseverance. There are drugs that can relieve your symptoms, but your immune system has to fight off the virus infection. Why not go easy on your body and do everything you can to avoid getting infected in the first place?
Your first line of defense to not get sick this year is simple: Wash your hands. That’s right. The simple act of frequently washing your hands with soap and hot water limits the spread of cold and flu viruses and the chance of getting infected with them. Get into the habit of washing your hands whenever you have been in public and whenever you can, throughout the working day. Wash them before you eat or drink anything, and if hot water and soap are not available, use an alcohol-based hand disinfectant.
Why is this so important? Because you are more likely to catch these viruses with your hands than any other way. Of course, a cough in the face won’t help, but you are much more likely to get a flu or cold if you come into contact with a handrail or doorknob. You pick up the virus by moving around during the day. You might touch the handle of a shopping cart or close a door behind you. Now you have it on your hands, which in itself is not a big problem. It cannot penetrate the skin there.
The problem arises when you touch your face. It happens much more than most of us realize. We touch our nose, rub our eyes or come too close to our mouth with our fingers when we eat or cough. The virus makes it to a mucous membrane in one of these areas, and it is exactly where it wants to be.
That is why it is important to wash your hands. It’s not just some busy job that health care professionals give you to make you feel that you can do something. It’s your best line of defense. So, what are you waiting for? Go wash your hands.
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