December 22, 2003
"[G]erms are tiny
organisms that can cause disease - and they're so small that they
can creep into your system without you noticing. You even need a
microscope to see them. To stay healthy, it's time you gave some
thought to germs. The term germs is really just a generic word
for four different types of organisms, including bacteria, viruses,
fungi, and protozoa.
"A certain number
of bacteria are good for our bodies - they help keep the digestive
system in working order and keep harmful bacteria from moving in.
Some bacteria are even used to produce medicines and vaccines. But
bacteria can cause trouble, too...
"Viruses can't live
outside other living cells. But once they've moved in, viruses spread
easily and can make you and other people sick....
fun-jee) are multi-celled, plant-like organisms that usually aren't
dangerous in a healthy person....Two common fungal infections include
athlete's foot and yeast infections....
pro-toe-zo-uh) are one-celled organisms like bacteria. Protozoa
love moisture, so intestinal infections and other diseases they
cause are often spread through contaminated water...."
While you could get completely
creeped out by the idea of having all these germs around all the
time, you could also take some preventative measures
to help limit the chance of them making your life miserable.
"Washing your hands
often is absolutely the best way to stop germs from getting into
your body. When should you wash? After using the bathroom, after
blowing your nose or coughing, after touching any pets or animals,
after gardening, or before and after visiting a sick relative or
friend. These are the best times to soap up with warm water, plenty
of lather, and a clean towel....Another way to fight infections
from germs is to make sure you have the right immunizations, especially
if you'll be traveling to countries outside the United States."
Mom was right. Hand washing.
It's important all year, but just think about all that's out there
"It's cold and flu
season, and the germs are out there, just waiting tomake you sick
and wreck your plans. Washing your hands frequently is the best
way to protect yourself against infection. Hand washing is more
than just dibbling your fingers under a dribble of water, though.
Soaping up and rinsing for 15 seconds is the way to go."
Fifteen seconds? Check
it out on the clock. How long is that? How long do you generally
spend washing your hands? Is it enough? Is hand washing alone enough?
What else can you do?
"The American Academy
of Pediatrics recommends the following four vaccines for teenagers
and one vaccine for college students.
Vaccines needed for teenagers:
- Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine
- Hepatitis B vaccines
- Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine
- Tetanus-Diphtheria vaccine
"Vaccines needed for
college students: Meningococcus vaccine"
Schedule (Anyone over 18 years old)
Vaccines for adults include
- Tetanus-Diphtheria Vaccine (all
adults, every 10 years)
- Influenza (Flu) Vaccine (adults 50
- Pneumococcal Vaccine (adults 65 and
- Hepatitis B Vaccine (adults at risk)
- Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) Vaccine
- Varicella (chickenpox) Vaccine (susceptible
for Infants and Children
If you would like vaccine
recommendations for those planning international
travel, you can visit:
Wash your hands? Get your
shots? What else can you do to stay healthy?
"You can put yourself
IN CONDITION to meet this challenge by doing several simple things:
- Get enough sleep: 7-10 hours each
- Eat at least three well-balanced
meals a day.
- Drink plenty of water and nutritious
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol which
- Minimize your exposure to flu.
- Avoid cigarette smoke and other respiratory
- Put humidity in your environment.
- Wash your hands frequently."
Sleep right. Eat right. Drink right.
Avoid smoke. Avoid exposure to flu. Wash hands. Get the vaccinations
you need. Anything else?
"Holidays mean gatherings with
lots of food. Here are several tips to prevent foodborne illness...."
Is that it?
Questions of the Week:
With all the suggestions for ways to stay healthy, how can you use
that information to make healthy choices without getting overwhelmed
or paranoid? What information do you need? What information do you
want? How do put into practice all of your health education and
still manage to enjoy life? What role does common sense play?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum