Posts Tagged ‘stay healthy’

Handwashing for a Healthy Life and Community

December 14th, 2020

When it comes to staying healthy, it helps to remember your mom’s advice to, “Wash your hands.” And the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backs up your mom. They maintain that, “Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.” Let’s explore why the CDC’s statement is true.

First, consider these germ facts, courtesy of Tri-County Health Care in Minnesota:

• There are between 2 and 10 million bacteria on your fingertips and elbows.
• The number of germs on your fingertips doubles after using the toilet.
• One germ can multiply into more than 8 million germs in one day.
• Nearly 80 percent of illness-causing germs are spread by your hands.
• Germs can survive for up to three hours on your hands.

Here’s another fact: Feces from people or animals, which can get on your hands after you use the toilet, change a diaper, or handle raw meat or pet waste, is a huge source of germs, including Salmonella, E. coli and norovirus. These germs cause diarrhea and can also spread certain respiratory infections such as adenovirus and hand-foot-mouth disease.

According to the CDC, a single gram of human feces, which is about the weight of a paper clip, can contain one trillion germs! If you get these germs on your hands and you don’t wash them off, you can pass them to other people and make them sick. Washing your hands with soap and water clears these germs from your hands and prevents their transmission to others.

In fact, research has shown that proper handwashing can prevent about 30 percent of diarrhea-related illnesses and about 20 percent of respiratory infections, such as colds and flu.

In addition to limiting the transfer of germs to other people, there are other great benefits to keeping your hands clean. It keeps your workplace healthy, decreases the number of food-borne illnesses and keeps kids healthier. It also helps combat the rise in antibiotic resistance because it reduces viral infections that are often incorrectly treated with antibiotics, which causes the germs to become resistant to the antibiotics.

In addition to the millions of bacteria that accumulate on your hands every day, many illness-causing viruses find a home on your hands as well, and frequent handwashing remains the number one tip for preventing the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19. But handwashing must be done properly, using soap and water.

Proper handwashing requires five simple steps:

• Wet: Put both your hands under clean running water.
• Lather: Apply a generous amount of soap to the inside and back of your hands, as well as your fingertips. Wash for at least 20 seconds. Skip the antibacterial soap. Studies show it’s not any more effective at killing germs than regular soap.
• Scrub: Rub both hands together and move your fingertips around both hands and up to your wrists. You don’t need a scrub brush, and you don’t need to make harsh, scrubbing movements.
• Rinse: Return both hands to the running water and gently wash away the soap.
• Dry: Completely dry the water from both hands.

If you don’t have ready access to soap and water, you can clean your hands using a hand sanitizer. Make sure it contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Sanitizers that contain ethanol alcohol and isopropanol alcohol are acceptable types, but those containing methanol have been recalled by the FDA after reports of adverse and even serious side effects.

When using a hand sanitizer, apply a generous drop to the palm of your hand, enough to cover all surfaces of your hands. Rub the sanitizer across both hands front and back, and your fingertips, until they feel dry,

Remember, hand sanitizers are good in a pinch, but they shouldn’t replace frequent handwashing as the primary method for keeping your hands clean.

We know that frequent, proper handwashing can protect you from COVID-19, as well as from respiratory infections such as colds, flu and even pneumonia. It can also protect against gastrointestinal infections that cause diarrhea. And we can pass on the germs that cause these disorders to others, even if we’re not sick. For many older people, babies and children, and those who have weakened immune systems, these disorders can be deadly.

So what the CDC maintains is definitely true. Keeping our hands clean protects us from getting sick as well as from passing on potentially deadly germs to others. It’s a small price to pay for a healthier life and community, don’t you think?

Health At Any Age!

July 20th, 2015

As I cross the threshold into my thirties this year, I suddenly find myself wondering, how can I age gracefully? What do I need to do NOW to ensure health at any age? Here are a few tips that promise to ensure health and happiness as each and every decade approaches.

20’s – ACTUALLY Eat Healthy

Group of People in their 20s with thumbs up

iStock Photo

The 20’s are a great time to build healthy eating habits that can last you a lifetime. Thanks to the internet, we’ve never had more access to healthy recipes, cooking tips and meal plans that can create a lifestyle of eating healthy and taking care of your body with plenty of plant-based foods. I became a health-conscious eater at age 28 and watched in awe as I shed the pounds and transformed my body. Now’s the time to get into the habit of healthy eating, as it will make it a whole lot easier to keep eating well throughout your life.

30’s Get Active, Anywhere

Group of People in their 30s on coffee break

iStock Photo

Your 30’s may find you in motherhood, or fully committed to a blossoming career, or both! However busy your schedule is, you know you need to work out, but it doesn’t have to be at the gym. Your 30’s are a great opportunity to consciously carve out time for doing a little more of the things you love. For example, walk the dog a little bit faster, for a little bit longer every day. Little steps can lead to big changes. If you love dancing, take a dance class. If you enjoy socializing, start a running group. For me, I find joy playing tennis with my tennis partner twice a week after work. If you’re in your 30’s, muscle density starts to decline, so this is a perfect time to develop a fitness routine that fits seamlessly into your daily life, and will help with the stress of all the busy new changes!

40’s Pay Attention to Your Mental Health

iStock Photo

iStock Photo

This one can be tough, especially for women who juggle work and family. Your 40’s are a great time to engage in a de-stress routine that helps combat some of the bodily changes you may begin to experience. When feeling stressed, try stretching, deep breathing, or talking to a girlfriend you may have had for 20 years now! In your 40s, you may begin to experience perimenopause, which might affect your sleep, moods, and sex life. Talk to your health care provider about how to deal with your symptoms.  

50’s Get Regular Checkups and Preventative Screenings

Group Of 50- and 60- SomethingsFriends Having Fun On Bicycle Ride

iStock Photo

One of the best ways to reduce your risk of illness and disease is to see your health care provider regularly – before you get sick. If you’re in your 50s, you need to start paying attention to blood pressure, getting regular physicals, and making sure you know which cancer screenings you need and how often. Check your breasts once a month for lumps, get routine pelvic exams, and even an annual eye exam, just to make sure you’re at your best! Your 50s are a great time to be proactive and begin major preventative care, to ensure a happy and healthy retirement.

60’s Protect Your Heart

Group of people in their 60s dipping their feet in the pool

iStock Photo

Today, women in their 60s are returning to college, starting businesses, running marathons and enjoying healthy sex lives. If you’ve taken care of your body and mind up to this point, you’re going to be more active and healthier than you thought possible. Still, there are unique concerns for women as they reach the 60 mark. As heart disease is a leading cause of death for women, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet low in sodium and saturated fat. Try to reduce alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day, and definitely refrain from smoking. Have your cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly as an extra precaution. 

70’s and Beyond … Preserve Your Senses 

Group of people in their 70s exercising

iStock Photo

Lifestyle plays a major role in helping to maintain your senses as you age. Eat a balanced diet to ward off such age-related eye disorders as macular degeneration, and preserve hearing by staying away from loud noises for long periods of time (no headphones!). If you do begin to experience some degree of hearing loss, swallow your pride and get tested for hearing aids, which have recently been associated with less cognitive decline and dementia. Wearing the devices could pay off in the long run, experts say, by helping you stay engaged with others and your environment.


Screening Sense

June 22nd, 2015

Woman getting a Mammogram Cancer Screening

Public Domain Image

Everybody wants to stay healthy and live a long life, and prevention of disease is one way to help you meet that goal. But some disorders, like many cancers, can’t be prevented. The next best thing is to detect them in their earliest stages when they’re most amenable to treatment. Routine screening tests are recommended for some of the more common cancers like breast and prostate.

Until recently, the guidelines for screening set by the medical community in this country were designed with maximum detection in mind. The goal was to use the most sensitive testing available in order to find every possible case of early cancer. It is a noble objective, but not without flaws. Now, the medical community is revisiting this issue.

In the May 19 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, a group from the American College of Physicians (ACP) suggests that many medical professionals and the public have overestimated the benefits of this “high-intensity” approach to cancer screening. Increasingly, however, they are becoming more aware of the other side of the coin. Intensive screening leads to greater harm to patients and increased medical costs.

This awareness has prompted a new way of looking at the screening issue that considers the tradeoffs between benefits, and harms and costs of various screening strategies in terms of value. The authors write:

High-value screening strategies provide a degree of benefit that clearly justifies the harms and costs; low-value strategies return disproportionately small health benefits for the harms and costs incurred. Value and intensity are not the same.

The point is that although a high-intensity screening approach may, indeed, have many benefits, when objectively measured, the benefits often do not outweigh the negatives of significant harm to patients and added cost. That makes it a low-value strategy. The ACP suggests that the American medical community consider more high-value strategies when setting screening schedules. These strategies often take an intermediate level of intensity that best balances benefits with harms and costs. That might mean reserving the most sensitive tests only for people with certain risk factors for that particular cancer.

The ACP offers advice for screening recommendations for five common cancers – breast, cervical, colorectal, ovarian and prostate – in average-risk adults. These are people who have no family history or other risk factors and who do not have any cancer symptoms. Before dispensing this advice, the ACP reviewed clinical guidelines and evidence from a number of sources including the US Preventive Services Task Force, The American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Cancer Society, the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American Gastrointestinal Association and the American Urological Association. Most of these organizations have already embraced high-value strategies, so the ACP’s advice for screening is not earth shattering.

Screenings remain an important part of your routine preventive health care, so continue to follow your doctor’s recommendations. He or she follows the guidelines approved by the American Cancer Society or other appropriate medical organization and will have access to the most up-to-date schedule for exams. If you have questions or concerns about the necessity of a screening, bring them up to your doctor. Be smart and be your own advocate!

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