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Posts Tagged ‘Flu Season’

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It’s flu and cold season.  Avoiding germs helps us avoid the flu and colds, so where are the germs lurking?  You might be surprised to find where you can encounter the most germs.

 

  • Home: Your kitchen is the germiest place. It has more bacteria than your bathrooms due to the germs on raw meat and produce.  Clean and disinfect or sanitize your kitchen sink often.  If you use a sponge, be sure to run it through the dishwasher after each use.  Also, make sure to disinfect your kitchen counter-tops.  Cold and flu germs can usually remain active on stainless steel, plastic and similar hard surfaces longer than on fabric or other types of soft surfaces. iphone-37856__340
  • Cellphone: Since we carry our cellphones everywhere, they are usually loaded with bacteria including viruses like the flu.  Frequently clean your smartphone with an alcohol-free antiseptic wipe. (Alcohol is not good for your screen.)
  • Purse: Do you hang your purse or set it on the floor?  Floors are really dirty places, especially restroom floors. Hang your purse on a hook or the back of a chair when possible, never put your purse on the kitchen counter, and regularly wipe your purse with a disinfectant wipe.
  • Workplace: You may think the worst place is the restroom, but the ground-floor elevator will probably beat it out for the germiest place.  Another place is the break room- especially the coffee pot handle and the water dispenser.  Wash your hand as soon as you can after touching either one of these items. menu
  • Restaurants: Guess what everyone touches?  The menu has the most bacteria.  Thus, after ordering your food, go to the restroom and wash your hands or take some hand sanitizer and use it before eating.
  • Grocery Stores: If you guessed the grocery cart, you are right.  Use a disinfecting wipe on the handles.  If you use reusable grocery bags, put them on the floor, not the kitchen counter, and wash them often in hot water and bleach.  Always wash your hands or sanitize them after shopping.

Washing your hands often with soap and water is the key to avoiding getting sick. hands-2238235__340 This is the best way to reduce the germs you are exposed to. Be sure to wash your hands for 20 seconds and build up a lather before rinsing.

And remember, eating nutritious food and being physically active will also help you stay healthy and fight infections.

Hope you avoid the flu and colds this season!

 

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fayette County

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County

 

References:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2018).  Preventive Steps.  Available at  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm

Leamy, E. (2017). The Most Germ-Infested Places You Encounter Every Day – and How to Avoid Getting Sick. The Washington Post.  Available at https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/12/17/the-most-germ-infested-places-you-encounter-every-day-and-how-to-avoid-getting-sick/

Steckelberg, J. M. (2015).  Flu Germs:  How Long Can They Live Outside the Body?  Mayo Clinic.  Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/expert-answers/infectious-disease/faq-20057907.

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It’s flu season!   Best protection is handwashing.  Regular soap?   Or antibacterial soap?  Does antibacterial provide extra protection against getting sick?  soap on hands

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) isn’t sure antibacterial really makes any difference.  In fact, the FDA is proposing companies need to provide more evidence antibacterial soaps are more effective, than just washing with plain soap and water in preventing illnesses.  The FDA also wants more data on the safety of using antibacterial soaps.

Some of the chemical ingredients in antibacterial soaps are associated with risks that may outweigh any benefits.  Some ingredients may increase the bacterial resistance to antibiotics and cause hormonal changes in our bodies.

Many liquid soaps contain the chemical triclosan.  Although this chemical is not known to harm humans, it may change the way hormones work in our bodies, according to some animal studies.  Laboratory studies have shown concern with triclosan causing bacteria resistance to antibiotics.  One positive way triclosan is effective is in preventing gingivitis, when it has been added to toothpaste.  Thus, the FDA would like more studies and evidence triclosan is safe and effective.  The Environmental Protection Agency also has some concerns with triclosan and is collaborating with the FDA.

Adding to this concern is recent data indicates we are exposed to these chemical ingredients more than previously thought.  Thus, increasing our risks with regular use over time.

How do you Drug label on soapknow if your soap is antibacterial?  Most products are labeled with the word “antibacterial.” Look for a Drug Facts Label which is required on antibacterial soap or body wash.   You can also check the ingredients.   Cosmetics do not have to carry a Drug Facts Label, so you will need to check the ingredients.

Regular soap or antibacterial soap?  Try regular soap and remember to use warm water, rub hands together for at least 20 seconds, rinse well and dry.  Handwashing is a key to staying healthy.

Writer:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer:  Beth Stefura, M Ed, RD, LD, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

References:

United States Food and Drug Administration, [2013].  FDA Taking Closer Look at ‘Antibacterial’ Soap, FDA Consumer Health Information, Available at http://www.fda.gov/consumer

WebMD, [2013].  Triclosan: What Consumers Should Know, WebMD, Available at http://www.webmd.com/fda/triclosan-what-consumers-should-know

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