THE BEST WAY TO PREVENT INFECTIONS
Good hygiene: the primary way to prevent infections
The first line of defense is to keep germs at bay by following good personal hygiene habits. Prevent infection before it begins and avoid spreading it to others with these easy measures.
Wash your hands well. You probably wash your hands after using the bathroom, before preparing or eating food, and after gardening or other dirty tasks. You should also wash up after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; feeding or stroking your pet; or visiting or caring for a sick person. Wet your hands thoroughly. Lather up with soap or cleanser, and rub it into the palms and backs of your hands and your wrists. Be sure to clean your fingertips, under your nails and between your fingers. Rinse under running water. Dry your hands and wrists thoroughly.
Cover a cough. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, then dispose of it. If no tissue is handy, cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than into your hands.
Wash and bandage all cuts. Any serious cut or animal or human bite should be examined by a doctor.
Do not pick at healing wounds or blemishes, or squeeze pimples.
Don’t share dishes, glasses, or eating utensils.
Avoid direct contact with napkins, tissues, handkerchiefs, or similar items used by others.
Practice good food-safety techniques to avoid getting sick
Although most cases of food-borne infection are not dangerous, some can lead to serious medical conditions, including kidney failure and meningitis. You can prevent infections by food-borne pathogens in your household by preparing and storing foods safely. The following precautions will help kill microbes that are present in the food you buy and help you avoid introducing new microbes into your food at home:
Rinse all meat, poultry, fish, fruits, and vegetables under running water before cooking or serving them.
Wash your hands with soap and water before and after you handle raw meat.
Separate raw foods and cooked foods. Don’t use the same utensils or cutting boards with cooked meat that were used to prepare the raw meat without washing between uses.
Cook foods thoroughly, using a meat thermometer to ensure that whole poultry is cooked to 180° F, roasts and steaks to 145° F, and ground meats to 160° F. Cook fish until it is opaque.
Defrost foods only in the refrigerator or in the microwave.
Whether you are young or young at heart, getting vaccinated is an essential part of staying healthy. Many serious infections can be prevented by immunization. While vaccines may cause some common side effects, such as a temporarily sore arm or low fever, they are generally safe and effective.
Understanding how infections are transmitted can help you avoid getting sick
Not long ago, no one understood that infectious diseases were caused by tiny organisms that moved from person to person. Even now, although we know that microscopic living microbes cause disease, how they do so is not always obvious. But we do know that most microbes enter through openings in the body—our noses, mouths, ears, anuses, and genital passages. They can also be transmitted through our skin through insect or animal bites. The best way to prevent infections is to block pathogens from entering the body.
A few simple precautions can help you avoid getting sick with an infectious disease
Infections are caused by microscopic organisms known as pathogens—bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites that enter the body, multiply, and interfere with normal functions. Infectious diseases are a leading cause of illness and death in the United States and around the world. For certain people particularly those with underlying illnesses like heart disease or cancer, those who have serious injuries, or those who are taking medications that weaken the immune system its more difficult to avoid getting sick with an infection. Living in an affluent country like the United States, the threat we face from deadly viruses, bacteria, and parasites can seem remote, but these infectious microbes are ever present among us, according to Dr. Michael Klompas, writing in the Harvard Medical School Special Health Report Viruses and Disease. Dr. Klompas is an infectious disease specialist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. However, for most healthy people, following a few basic principles can go a long way in helping to prevent infections.
Vaccinations are essential if you are to avoid getting sick
Consult your health care provider regarding your immunization status. In general:
Children should receive the recommended childhood vaccinations.
Adults should make sure their vaccinations are up to date.
When traveling abroad, check with your health care provider about additional immunizations.
Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, too. In addition to protecting your pet, this will also protect you and your family.