Tips For Keeping Your Family Healthy

Hand Hygiene:

Make sure effective hand washing is done by every member of your family on a regular basis, especially when coming in from the outside, before eating, after toileting and whenever else it seems appropriate. Hum or sing the ABC song while washing your hands with soap and warm water for 30 seconds to make sure you’ve washed them effectively. Using sanitizing hand cleaner such as Purell is an effective alternative when used properly.

Infection Control:

Bring sanitizing liquid with you when staying at hotels. Sanitize the light switches, remote controls, door knobs, telephones, toilet flusher & seat, faucets, etc. The dollar stores sell disinfectant spray that is perfect for the job! Bring a ziplock bag to place the dirty TV remote control in.

Be sure to use the sanitizing wipes supplied in the grocery store to wipe down the shopping cart handle and the area where babies are placed. You would be shocked to read the research and find out how many millions of germs lurk in those areas of the cart.

Many viruses enter the body via the mouth and live in the back of the mouth while replicating themselves. Gargle with an antiseptic mouthwash such as Listerine twice each day if you feel like you are getting a cold or the flu. This will kill the viruses. It is especially important to do this during the cold and flu season, even if you are feeling fine. Be sure to also do this when you may have been exposed to a person suffering with a cold or the flu.

Be sure everyone who comes into your home from the outside washes their hands or sanitizes with a product such as Purell so that outside germs are not brought into your home.

Have people remove their shoes before entering your home. According to Dr.Mehmat Oz (Of Oprah fame), shoes worn outside the home can harbor in excess of 410,000 bacteria.

Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your car, on your kitchen counter and in other strategic places in your home and at work. Encourage family & visitors to use it!

Try to avoid nail biting as germs accumulate under the nails. Keep your nails short if you want to reduce your risk of spreading infection. Be aware that nail polish contains chemicals and when you chew on polished nails, you might be exposing yourself to these chemicals.

Dispose of used tissues immediately. Do not leave dirty tissues lying around, especially in food preparation areas. Cold, flu and other airborne viruses can be spread this way.

Stay home and rest when you suspect you are getting sick. During the early stage of illness, you may not have specific symptoms, but you may be contagious and may spread your illness to others. In addition, when you are sick, your immune system is weakened and you are more susceptible to catch illnesses from others.

Adults and children should keep current with immunizations. Speak to your primary care doctor or your child’s pediatrician about this.

Contrary to past practice, do not cough or sneeze into your bare hands. Germs can be spread from your respiratory tract to everything you touch after that, leading to the spread of infection. If you must cover your mouth with your hand, be sure to wash your hands after such exposure. The new recommendation when coughing or sneezing, is to cover your mouth with a tissue or cough or sneeze into the elbow joint.

Do not eat or drink from someone else’s plate or cup or share eating utensils. That person may have germs that you do not want to catch.

Wear socks whenever there may be risk of foot sweating. This will decrease your chance of getting fungal infections of the feet.

Wear inexpensive flip flops in public and hotel showers to avoid picking up any foot infections.

Avoid walking barefoot outside so as not to sustain any puncture wounds or pick up any disease-causing organisms through the cracks in your skin. If you should sustain a puncture wound, go directly to your family doctor or local emergency room for a tetanus shot.

Keep hands away from mouth and face. Your hands come in contact with disease-causing organisms every minute of the day. This is why frequent hand washing plays such an important role in the reduction of infectious diseases. Organisms from dirty hands can be transmitted to the skin on your face, resulting in skin infections. The oils found on your hands can clog your pores, resulting in blackheads and whiteheads. When you put your fingers in your mouth, the organisms under your nails or on your hands can be transmitted through the mucus membranes lining your mouth, making you sick.

Do not invite anyone into your home who is obviously sick. Keep their germs out of your home.

If you have toddler age children, sanitize toys on a regular basis with a non-toxic green product.

Prepare a household mixture of bleach & water to be used for disinfection. The ratio should be 1:10, bleach :water. For example: 1 Tablespoon of bleach:10 Tablespoons of water; 1 cup of bleach:10 cups of water; etc. Use this mixture on hard surfaces only, as its use on upholstered or carpeted areas may cause bleaching.

Infection Control In The Kitchen:

Do not allow anyone to place their handbags, backpacks, briefcases, etc upon the kitchen counter where food is prepared.

Pay careful attention to food preparation, storage & refrigeration instructions that may be printed on food labels. Be sure to wash kitchen items used for the preparation of raw fish, meats or poultry with hot soap and water before re-using. For more information on how to reduce your risk of food-borne diseases, go to www.fightbac.org.

Kitchen sponges harbor millions of bacteria. Soak your kitchen sponges in bleach solution once a week OR run them through your dishwasher on the sanitizing cycle. Ideally, sponges should be replaced every month.

Disinfect kitchen counters at least once per week or as often as needed.

Wash raw fruits & vegetables carefully before eating them. It is reported that even the cut up lettuce that has already been washed harbors organisms and should be re-washed before eating. It is recommended that fruits be peeled before eating to make sure you are not being exposed to pesticides. If you are particularly concerned about exposing your family to pesticides, buy organic fruits and vegetables. Do a price check. Despite what the media says, organic items are not always more expensive. For more information on how to reduce food-borne diseases, go to www.fightbac.org.

Hazards Of Nail Salons:

Be aware of the dangers of nail salons. Equipment such as scissors, nail files, brushes, and foot basins or spas that are not sanitized properly can cause all sorts of diseases, including fungal infections at the very least and blood-borne diseases at the very worst.

Acrylic nails can increase your risk for fungal infections. Moisture can get trapped underneath them and this becomes a great breeding place for fungi which like warm and moist places to grow in.

Foot basins or tubs that are not properly sanitized between pedicures can increase your risk for foot infections. Be sure to ask your nail salon how they clean the tub to protect you from infection. Ask them to clean the foot basin or tub in front of you.

Women’s Issues:

Women can reduce their risk for vaginal infections by wearing cotton underwear, avoiding spas & bubble baths, and by not sitting in moist or wet bathing suits.

Annual visits to the gynecologist is essential for the early detection of cancers of the vagina, uterus, cervix, ovaries, or other female issues. Your doctor will also perform a breast exam for early detection of breast cancer or other breast abnormalities. Call your gynecologist for details about when to start GYN exams and how often they should be performed for your age group. Regardless of your age, if you are a sexually active female, especially one with multiple partners, you should be seen annually by a gynecologist for a complete pelvic exam to detect for sexually transmitted & other gyn diseases.

If you are sexually active, be sure to participate in safe sex. If you think you are mature enough to have sex, than you should be mature enough to discuss safe sex with your partner. While birth control pills will prevent pregnancy 98% of the time, assuming you take them properly, they will not prevent you from sexually-transmitted diseases (STD’s). The primary protective product that will reduce your risk for STDs remains the condom. If you are having sex, use them. If you don’t know how to use them properly, ask someone for this information so you will have maximum protection.

Women should perform Breast Self Examination (BSE) on a monthly basis. If you do not know how to do this examination, call your doctor or local American Cancer Society for more info. Pick one day of the month to do this, such as on your birth date. Be sure not to do this right before your menstrual period, as your breasts can be engorged and sensitive.

If you are female, 40 years or older, schedule a mammography to detect for early breast abnormalities. Be sure to have one each year after that. As always discuss this with your doctor.

Healthy Living:

Be sure to eat a balanced diet. Discuss what this means with your family doctor. The recommendation today is to eat less meat and more more fish; less foods made with white flour or sugar and more fresh vegetables & fruits and whole grains.

Be sure to get enough sleep each night. Sleep deprivation can lead to confusion, distraction, irritability, decreased performance and personality changes. The average adult requires at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Elementary school- age children require about 10-11 hours; Middle school age children require 9-10 hours; high school students require 8-9 hours.

Drink plenty of water (10 – 8 ounce glasses each day) during the day, especially during hot temperatures and after excessive exercise. This prevents dehydration during extreme conditions, but on a regular basis this keeps the billions of microscopic cells in your body well-hydrated (well-watered). Scientific evidence reports that cellular hydration keeps the kidneys healthy, the body in a state of balance and that it also slows down the aging process.

Nicotine can cause life threatening changes in the lungs and can also cause your arteries to constrict or get narrow. This can interfere with normal blood circulation and put you at risk for heart attack, stroke, blindness, hemorrhage, kidney failure, as well as respiratory ailments. Quit smoking to dramatically reduce the risk of disease. Talk to your doctor to find a smoker cessation program in your city. The local American Lung Association or the Cancer Society can also refer you to such a program.

Quit chewing tobacco to reduce your risk of oral cancer.

See your dentist at least once each year to detect early gum disease that can promote infections and cause tooth loss in advanced stages. Have the recommended Xrays to detect early tooth or gum disease. The use of dental floss once a day will minimize risk of gum infections or disease and can actually prolong your life. Your children need dental care as well. Talk to your family dentist to see at what age care is appropriate.

If over 50 years of age, speak with your family doctor about having a colonoscopy for the early detection of colon cancer. Repeat as prescribed by your doctor. Be assured the preparation for the procedure is much worse than the procedure itself. The drugs used during the procedure cause amnesia, making you totally unaware of what goes on during the test.

If you are a male, 18 years or older, examine your testicles on a monthly basis. Feel them carefully to detect for any abnormality, such as a lump or tenderness. Testicular cancer, a disease of young adult males, is curable if caught early.

Each member of your family should have an annual wellness examination with your family doctor or pediatrician in order to detect illness in its early stage.

Make sure to exercise 30 minutes at least 3 times per week. Ten minutes, 3 times each day is effective as long as you get your heart pumping.

Avoid caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant. It can keep you up nights. It can make you jittery and nervous. It can increase stomach acid. It can also increase symptoms in women with fibrocystic breast disease.

Avoid drinking diet soda that can increase your risk for pancreatic cancer and other organ disease.

Identify the stressors in your life and figure out what helps you relieve them… and then do it! You may need some counseling to help you do this, but be assured that stress management is essential in order to lead an active, happy and healthy life. Consistent stress can cause many physical illnesses, such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack. Stress can also contribute to psychological and emotional issues.

Make time for individual and family recreation. Family togetherness promotes bonding and communication between family members. It also helps to reduce stress and increases positive feelings of worth and value.

Plan family dinner time a minimum of twice a week. This, too, promotes family bonding and communication. Children have a voice… let them use it. Listen carefully to what they have to say.

Switch all of your household cleaning substances to green products to promote a healthier family and world. These products can be purchased at your local grocery store and do not necessarily cost more than the regular cleaning products you might purchase.

Family members should not share face, hand or bath towels.

Family members should not share toothbrushes or bathroom cups.

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