Lesson in Hygiene

Simple steps in hygiene for better health

By Dr. Richard Bailey, MD

Dont touch the nose for better hygiene and wash hands

 Infections spread due to the proximity of classmates in crowded environments and the subsequent prevalence of objects on which germs are deposited. Infections may be acquired by getting germs on your hands and then touching your nose. Hot spots for germ deposits are bathrooms, desks, doors, the computer keyboard, the mouse and the like. Even the pencil one student shares with another.

According to research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, among students in kindergarten through 12th grade at public schools, the transmission of communicable diseases is responsible for more than 164 million lost school days per school year.

In my practice as an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, I often advise my patients on steps they can take to help stay healthy. Good personal hygiene is the key. The term "hygiene" is derived from Hygieia, the Greek goddess of health, cleanliness and sanitation. Hygiene is also a science that deals with the promotion and preservation of health. The 8 Habits of Good Hygiene listed below contains key proactive steps with the school and home environment in mind but are excellent habits for everyone from travelers to office workers. The list includes advice from infectious disease specialists, the Centers of Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) the World Health Organization (www.who.int) and other insights that could help reduce the risk of infection. In particular, I am a strong advocate of nasal hygiene. Products that can help maintain a clean nose such as saline nasal sprays and neti pots can be very effective in keeping your sinuses healthy. I am also recommending a nasal swab product called Nozin® Nasal Sanitizer® antiseptic (www.nozin.com) for it's ability to fight germs at the nose, a chief entry point for germs into the body and the portal to your respiratory system.

Of course, where possible, to avoid spreading germs, try to use paper towels before touching anything and teach your kids to cover coughs, sneeze properly (it's better to sneeze into your arm than your hands to cut down on spreading germs by touch) or even to wear a facemask. These latter steps are good advice but can be very hard to follow. The following 8 steps tend to be more practical and can help greatly in reducing risk.

  1. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, with plenty of soap and running water for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Use hand sanitizers. It’s not always convenient to wash you hands, so alcohol based sanitizers can help fill the gaps when you are away from the sink. You can use sanitizers or alcohol wipes in the classroom at your seat.
  3. Refrain from touching your eyes, mouth and especially your nose. The nose is the chief site of infection by germs that cause colds, flu, strep and other disease.
  4. Be careful of re-infection. Washing and using hand sanitizers can get rid of most the germs that already exist on your hands, but these methods are only effective for a period of seconds. Your hands can easily be re-infected as soon as they come in contact with new germs. Then, if you touch your nose, the germs can enter your body.
  5. To help reduce your risk of infection, consider using nasal hygiene products. These include saline sprays, neti pots (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neti_pot), which help clean nasal passages with a saline wash, and Nozin® Nasal Sanitizer® antiseptic (www.nozin.com) which is topically applied to the front of the nose.
  6. Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  7. Maintain your general health through exercise, plenty of rest and good nutrition.
  8. Spread the word to help stop the spread of germs. Share this list with friends, family and classmates. You want as many people to know about this advice as possible. If you’re lucky, the whole class will learn and practice these healthy habits.

Final Thought

hygiene lesson in progressThese 8 habits are great healthy tips that can be very effective for students, their families and teachers. In fact, they are good to follow anytime you are exposed to crowded areas at your office, theater, health club or on an airplane. While studies have shown that even sanitizers alone can help reduce your risk, your best chances are when you combine these habits into a hygienic regimen which you, and those around you, consistently follow.

Dr. Richard Bailey is a Board Certified Otolaryngologist with a practice in Arizona.


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