Handwashing will always be the best way to avoid germs.
Cold weather is here and on its back are the dreaded symptoms of coughing, sniffling and feeling lousy. Every year we can expect to be bombarded by a multitude of cold and flu viruses. There are too many to count. Most people will experience one episode of a mild illness and be done with it. Others are not as lucky. In particular, if you are a senior, those innocuous bugs can result in a health nightmare. Seniors tend to have diminished immune systems which makes it harder to ward off the intruders. Once an organism gets its foot in the door it can result in serious illness, such as pneumonia. Pneumonia should be prevented at all costs since it is still a leading cause of death among seniors. But first, that means avoiding the initial insult.
Think About What You Are Touching
There’s no deep dark secret to avoiding cold and flu viruses. Everyone knows that frequent hand washing is the key. Organisms are spread via the hands by touching contaminated surfaces then transferring the bugs to the eyes or nose. Germs don’t fly very far when we cough or sneeze. They land on the surfaces we touch, which is why our hands are the ultimate culprits in the spread of disease.
What more can you do to avoid getting the bugs on your hands? It’s not always practical or convenient to wash your hands. Not to mention the dryness that follows. And aren’t we always forgetting to not rub our eyes or nose? That gives the germs a green light for entry (the germs said “Thank You!”). If you don’t mind getting funny looks from others, there is a way to bypass the bugs.
Bypassing the Bugs
One trick that helps bypass the bugs is to avoid grasping surfaces to begin with, especially door handles. It’s not always possible to do that. For example, if the sign on the door says “Pull”, well, you get the picture. But if you come across a door with a lever handle or, better yet, a door with a bar to push, you can avoid grasping. You are using other body parts to open the door. This is much less likely to result in exposure. The concept behind this is also the reason we tell kids to cough and sneeze into their arm, not their hands.
We may not stop all germ exposures but we can stop some. Remember, the hands are germ collectors. Try to keep them off the door knobs and away from your face. And don’t mind the people who wonder why you’re opening a door with your elbow or doing a slow-motion body slam. When you see them with the sniffles you can say “Doesn’t look so funny now, does it?”