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Wash hands to prevent illness

The winter season presents the challenge of fighting colds, influenza and other illnesses. And this winter is especially challenging with a mixture of warm days and cold nights.

Your body's immune system is its defense against disease. Therefore, you should eat a healthy diet, take a multi-vitamin-mineral supplement and exercise to keep your immune system strong.

But, there is still one very simple thing that you can do to prevent some illnesses -- wash your hands often.

By frequently washing your hands you wash away germs that you have picked up from other people, from contaminated surfaces, or from animals and animal waste.

What happens if you do not wash your hands frequently? You pick up germs from contaminated sources and you infect yourself when you touch your eyes, your nose or your mouth. One of the most common ways people catch colds is by rubbing their nose or their eyes after their hands have been contaminated with a cold virus.

You can also spread germs directly to others or onto surfaces that other people touch. And before you know it, everybody around you is getting sick.

The important thing to remember is that, in addition to colds, some pretty serious diseases -- like H1N1 flu, hepatitis A, meningitis, and infectious diarrhea -- can easily be prevented by making a habit of washing your hands.

When should you wash your hands? It is especially important: before, during and after you prepare food; before eating; after using the bathroom; after handling animals or animal waste; when your hands are dirty; and more frequently when someone in your home is sick.

You can't see germs with the naked eye or smell them, so you don't really know where they are hiding.

To correctly wash your hands, first wet your hands and apply liquid or clean bar soap. Rub your hands vigorously together and scrub all surfaces. Continue for 10 to 15 seconds or about the length of a little tune. It is the soap combined with the scrubbing action that helps dislodge and remove germs. Rinse well and dry your hands.

It is estimated that one out of three people do not wash their hands after using the restroom. So these tips are also important when you are out in public.

Washing your hands often is one very simple thing you can do to save a lot on medical bills.

Web posted on Thursday, December 31, 2009

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