With the kids back in school, you can expect them to start bringing home sticky lunch boxes, sweaty gym clothes, plenty of homework and original art projects to hang on the fridge. But they’re also likely to bring home millions of microscopic things you can’t see and definitely don’t want: germs. Or, if you prefer, bugs, bacteria, microbes, viruses, cooties or creepy-crawlies. Whatever you call the icky things that make your kids and then everyone else in your family sick, we’ve got your prevention tips — and maybe a couple of hygiene myth busters — right here.
Flu mist effectiveness evaporates.
Getting your annual flu shot is your best defense against the flu. The whole family can get one at the closest CareNow, with no appointment necessary. The CDC recommends an annual influenza vaccination for everyone ages 6 months and older. However, take note of a big change: The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has warned the CDC that this year’s flu mist vaccine — a nasal spray form of the vaccination — is ineffective and should not be used. Prepare your kids for a flu shot with these handy tips.
Happy washing to you.
The discovery of germs and the recognition that proper hand-washing significantly decreases the spread of germs is one of the most important medical breakthroughs in history. This may not excite your kids, but singing “Happy Birthday” every day might. Here’s how the CDC says we should wash our hands.
- Wet hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap (to save water) and apply soap.
- Myth buster: Water doesn’t have to be hot or even warm. Studies show that cold water is just as effective, is less irritating to hands and is more economical.
- Myth buster: For those not in the healthcare profession, studies show that regular soap works just as well as antibacterial soap. Further, long-term use of products containing antibacterial ingredients, such as triclosan, may create antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
- Lather hands by rubbing them together with soap. Be sure to lather the backs of hands, between fingers and under nails. This creates friction, which helps lift dirt, grease and microbes from skin.
- Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds. Singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice will do the trick.
- Rinse hands well under clean, running water.
- Myth buster: Using a paper towel to turn the faucet on or off is simply a waste of paper towels and water. There is very little evidence to suggest significant numbers of germs are transferred between hands and the faucet and no studies showing that using a paper towel improves health.
- Dry hands using a clean towel or air dry them. While hand-drying study results conflict, there’s one thing they all agree on: Germs prefer moist environments and are passed more easily to and from wet hands.
If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and rub over all surfaces of hands and fingers until dry.
Coughs and sneezes spread diseases.
Don’t germ up your clean hands by coughing or sneezing on them. Current etiquette for these disease-spreading actions states that you should:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
- Throw the used tissue in the trash.
- If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
- Wash your hands (and other coughed or sneezed on parts).
Study your snot.
Besides passing germs, nasal mucus can also help you determine if you have an infection that may require medical treatment. It’s all about the color — from clear to black with increasingly disgusting shades in between. While your doctor won’t use snot color as a primary diagnostic tool, it is one factor to be considered so definitely mention the latest hue with the rest of your symptoms.
We hope you and your kids escape the attack of the germs this school year, but if the flu goes askew, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.
Visit FastERTX.com to find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you.