The Cold Season is Here

How to Prevent the Spread of Germs

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2018/12/03

With the cold season upon us, it’s time to start protecting ourselves from harmful bacteria that will be increasingly present for the next few months. Because no one enjoys getting sick, we do our best to prevent catching a cold, flu or stomach flu ? all common infections during this time of year. Some creative people come up with effective tricks to tackle germs, but even with lots of effort to stay healthy, we’re never truly protected!

Bacteria can spread in 4 different ways: through direct contact, indirect contact, airborne droplets, and other airborne particles. So even if you’re doing as much as possible to sanitize and decontaminate your environment, bacteria will eventually find a way to spread. Some germs won’t survive a temperature lower than the human body’s for very long. So keep those bugs at bay by limiting direct contact with people and whatever they’re coughing up. Then there are those tough viruses that stay strong for several days, even on hard, non-porous surfaces. Avoid those by keeping your hands off objects that could be super germ-y, as in anything regularly manipulated by a lot of people.

The strategy? Help keep bacteria from spreading by following these simple tips.

1- Wash Your Hands Often and Thoroughly
Hand hygiene is essential to reduce the spread of germs. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. And don’t forget to scrub up multiple times throughout the day, like after sneezing, before and after eating, after a trip to the mall, etc.

2- Cough and Sneeze Respectfully
Many people think that covering their mouth and nose with their hand is enough to stop germs from spreading. But by doing this, you’re sending tiny little droplets on your hands that’ll transfer to everything you touch afterward. The best thing to do when you need to cough or sneeze is to grab a tissue to cover your mouth and nose. You can then throw the tissue away and wash your hands to minimize infections. If you don’t have a tissue on hand, use the good old trick of coughing in your elbow. It’s simple and effective!

3- Don’t Touch Your Nose, Mouth or Eyes
Your eyes, nose, and mouth are the gateway to your body and immune system. Avoid contact at all cost!

4- Clean Your Home Often
There’s nothing better than soap and water to clean door handles, countertops, toilets bowls, remote controls, railings, etc.

5- Give Your Dish Towels Some Love
Dish towels and kitchen rags are breeding grounds for germs. What’s worse, is if you’re using a contaminated cloth around the kitchen, you risk spreading harmful bacteria everywhere. Also, remember to let those rags dry out between each use, and replace them often.

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

On that note, here’s a list of habits to steer clear of when trying to stay germ-free. Not to make you feel guilty, but just to help you become more aware of the little you things you do daily that may be hurting your health or your family’s.

1- Chewing on a pencil
2- Washing your hands too quickly
3- Opening packaging with your teeth
4- Having lunch at your desk
5- Sharing utensils

Avoid contact with others as much as possible when you’re sick, like shaking someone’s hand or touching a baby’s face (their immune system isn’t fully developed, so they’re much more at risk).
Here’s another tip: carry hand sanitizer with you (usually alcohol-based) in case you don’t have access to soap and water. And once you’ve washed your hands, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet so you don’t get any germs back on your clean hands.

In short, many of us fall into unhealthy habits that promote bacteria transfer. It’s essential to be aware of these hygiene mistakes and try to avoid them. To help protect yourself better, you may also want to consider taking supplements. A simple multivitamin can help you get through the winter months by providing the vitamins and minerals that are essential to maintaining your overall health.

Here are a few sources with many interesting ideas on the subject:
https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/advice-and-prevention/accidents-injuries-and-diseases-prevention/preventing-transmission-of-viruses-and-bacteria/
https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/advice-and-prevention/accidents-injuries-and-diseases-prevention/washing-hands/
https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/advice-and-prevention/accidents-injuries-and-diseases-prevention/coughing-and-sneezing-without-contaminating/

Quote

To keep colds and flus at bay during winter’s cold months, nothing beats vitamin cocktails and micro-nutrients to reinforce your immune system.

Christelle Hadaud
Naturopath

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