While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought close attention to disease prevention, developing healthy habits is also important to help prevent the common cold, seasonal influenza, and other illnesses.
What do we mean by ‘germs’?
We talk about germs, we are usually referring to four different things:
- Bacteria - Bacteria causes things like ear or sinus infections, pinkeye, strep throat, and some types of pneumonia. Only illnesses caused by bacteria respond to antibiotics.
- Viruses - The common cold, influenza, and COVID-19 are viruses. Though certain medications can help, viruses do not respond to antibiotics. Sometimes, illness caused by a virus can develop into a bacterial infection. For example, influenza can develop into bacterial pneumonia or a cold can become a sinus infection. Antibiotics will knock out the bacterial infection but not the underlying illness, if there is one.
- Fungi - In humans, fungi generally causes rashes, such as athlete’s foot. Treatment usually involves topical ointments.
- Protozoa - Protozoa are one-celled organisms. Malaria spread by mosquitoes is one type of protozoa. Organisms spread through water that cause diarrhea and nausea are also protozoa. A variety of protozoal illnesses and treatments exist.
How do germs spread?
- Airborne - Sneezes and coughs can spread viruses and bacteria in the air, which another person can then breathe in.
- Direct contact - Direct human contact, such as holding someone’s hand or coming in contact with a bodily fluid like blood or sweat can also spread germs.
- Indirect contact - Touching something contaminated can spread many types of germs. A child with pinkeye might rub his eyes and touch a surface that is then touched by another child, who rubs her eye as well, spreading the bacteria. Or, not covering the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing can spread virus to a surface that another person touches.
How can we prevent the spread of germs?
In order to prevent or minimize the spread of germs, a number of ‘healthy habits’ exist:
- Wash your hands frequently, with soap and warm water, for at least 20 seconds.
- Keep hand sanitizer with you any time access to hand washing is difficult or impossible. Doc Hygiene™ is your perfect, on-the-go hand sanitizing solution.
- Stay home if you are sick, and avoid sick people if you are not.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with the crook of your elbow, not your hand.
- Dispose of used tissues, even if just coughed into, immediately.
- Avoid touching your hands to your face.
- Clean and disinfect regularly touched surfaces frequently.
- Consider a flu shot for the seasonal influenza virus