We have two major gateways into our body: our mouths and our airways. There are two more, your skin if lacerated and your rectum. You may think me punctilious for giving you the following info but it is important for you to take this as gospel!
I regularly see people putting their hands on the tops of drinking utensils which means that a small portion of what is on their hands will enter the person’s body doing the drinking ─ Egad! If you must touch the utensil’s top drink from the opposite side is good advice. If at a restaurant and the server handles the utensils in a careless manner by touching something you will put in your mouth ask that it be replaced. When working out at the gym use sanitizing solution or wipes just after you finish.
When opening a public door that is to be pushed, use your forearm. When opening a door that needs to be pulled try to use your non-dominant hand. The same advice is for touching any public areas such as the handrail on stairways or elevator buttons. Items that frequently carry germs are called FOMITES─ AVOID THEM.
Surgeons wash before an operation because the rubber gloves can become torn. Called “scrubbing”, the washing takes about ten minutes. We can learn from the practice: about eighty percent is spent washing the fingers because that is where gloves tear and where the germs reside. It is the same with us. JUST DO IT.
Getting ill requires an inoculation dose and the dose required to make you sick depends on the virulence of the germs (microorganisms to the sophisticated) that you take into your body. So, during epidemics, the germs are more virulent. Nevertheless, it is wise to develop good habits whether or not there is a present danger. Good habits always triumph in the long run.
Always wash your hands or use sanitizing wipes before eating “finger foods”. Keep a container of hand sanitizer in the garage and car to be used if you have touched public items such as doorknobs. My church has a brief session where attendees shake hands. I keep a packet of sterile wipes in the car to eliminate any germs hijacking germs.
The nose to lungs is the second major gateway but is more often considered the only portal which is may or may not be. When going out in public take care to remove yourself from the area where someone is persistently sneezing or coughing. It can be at the movies, church, a restaurant, or other locations. It does not matter where. Avoid breathing in air peppered with another’s expelled air. Most contaminated air extends up to ten feet away. Keep at least ten feet of distance from the coughing or sneezing person.
If you are coughing or sneezing do it into a sleeve rather than your hand which could give you a repeat inoculation and cause a super-infection. WebMD states that airplane travel has a much bigger chance of getting infected than going out into general public places. They recommend not touching the doorknob on exiting the restroom. They say to use a paper towel.
Also, you may not be able to move if the plane is full. Be aware you need to be at least four seats removed from the cougher. During peak flu season, consider buying disposable surgical masks as insurance to keep safe.
The Readers Digest has some helpful hints: Wash your hands after cooking, using the toilet, petting an animal, handling garbage, blowing your nose, or coughing or sneezing into your hand. It doesn’t matter if you wash with regular or antibacterial soap as long as you do a thorough job.
AARP has a website loaded with good info. They single out restaurants, especially the number of touched items which we don’t normally think about. Menus are literally touched by many and not sanitized. When lemons were tested over seventy percent had disease-causing bacteria ─ WOW! Have your drink sans lemon slices. And consider condiment containers: salt and pepper shakers, catsup, soy, mustard, and others are likely contaminated. It is unlikely previous customers washed before eating. During flu season, carry a disinfectant wipe before touching or before eating.
Cleanliness is important and especially in hospitals and hotels. There are problems in both institutions as evidenced by a plethora of medical articles that access the problems seen and suggest corrections. But always remember, it only becomes a personal problem if the unwanted disease-causing germs get into your mouth or lungs. Make a resolution to set up cleanliness habits.