Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Health Care and Germs

Are you a germaphobe? There are some individuals who have a traumatic fear of germs, and they freak out at the mere thought of coming into contact with any kind of germs. Are you one of those individuals who has germaphobia, or are you someone who really doesn’t think that much about germs? Many people have an awareness of coming into contact with germs, but especially during the winter months.

According to the San Francisco Department of Health (SFDOH), germs are tiny microorganisms that exist all around us and are invisible to the human eye. There are many different types of germs. Most are not harmful, but some cause infectious diseases. There are vaccines to prevent some and medicines to treat others, but there is a limited number of vaccines and medicines for every kind of infectious disease. It is important to know about germs and infectious diseases, and simple ways to avoid getting and spreading them.

As reported by ZocDoc, according to research undertaken by Kimberly-Clark Professional, a subsidiary of the company that produces hygiene-related products like Kleenex and Huggies, the gas pump is the public place people are most likely to encounter germs. The study found that a whopping 71 percent of gas-pump handles are “highly contaminated” with the germs most likely to make you sick. Other bacteria-infested locales included corner mailboxes (68 percent highly contaminated), escalator rails (43 percent) and ATM buttons (41 percent).
To eliminate germs, a good start is washing your hands before and after gassing up your car or touching any of the other items likely to carry germs. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it takes about 20 seconds of scrubbing to complete an effective hand-washing. If you don’t have soap and water available, a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is a decent substitute, but won’t eliminate certain types of germs.

Germs have favorite places to live, preferred ways to travel, and if they are harmful, their own unique ways of causing disease. Germs can live in or on dirt, water, countertops, your skin, your intestines, and in many other places around you. Some germs can survive on their own while others prefer living in people or animals. Some germs live only in hot areas of the world while others live only in cold areas. When germs find a place that is good for them, they multiply and set up a home for themselves, according to the SFDOH.
According to Fitness Magazine, avoiding infection is fairly easy. Basic hygiene (read: washing your hands before eating and after going to the bathroom) gets rid of most bacteria. Those who have to take greater precautions include the elderly and anyone with a suppressed immune system. Plus, you don't want to go overboard with the anti-germ activity: There are lots of "good" bacteria out there that help keep the "bad" germs away. "The helpful microorganisms overwhelmingly outnumber the harmful ones," says Jack Brown, PhD, a professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Kansas at Lawrence. "Removing a large proportion of the good bacteria gives the bad germs a chance to increase and potentially become harmful." More info about germ hotspots can be found at this website: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/fitness/printableStory.jsp?storyid=/templatedata/fitness/story/data/1135881081453.xml .

According to the SFDOH, germs spread in different ways. To catch an infectious disease, you first need to be exposed to a harmful germ. Then it needs to get on or into your body and act in its won unique way to cause disease. Your body is usually good at fighting infections; not everyone who is exposed to germs gets sick, but some do. Here are the most common ways to be exposed:

·         Touching. Some germs live in body fluids like mucus, pus, and stool. Even the invisible drops released when people talk, cough, or sneeze can carry germs. Touching a contaminated surface or object, then touching your eyes, nose, mouth, a cut, or other opening in the body, can lead to an infectious disease.
·         Eating or drinking. Some germs exist in food and untreated water. Unwashed fruits and vegetables, and foods not properly cooked or kept at the right temperature, may carry harmful germs.
·         Breathing. Some germs spread through the air. When someone coughs, sneezes, or talks they can release germs. When harmful germs are inhaled, they can cause illness.
·         Getting bitten. Animals can carry and spread infectious diseases to people. Bites from wild animals, pets, or even a small animal like a bat or insect can cause illness. Even if the animal doesn't look sick, it may carry harmful germs.
Infectious diseases are also spread through sexual contact, during pregnancy from a mother to an unborn child, from sharing needles, blood transfusions, and through other ways. More information can be located at this site: http://www.sfcdcp.org/germs.html .
If you are a germaphobe, according to leading expert Jan Heering, germ phobia is very common among the population and can circumscribe the daily activities of the sufferer to an abnormal extent. This is still a prevalent problem in today's society, and can cause unwanted distress among the victims. Fear of germs can be defined as a "persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of germs."
Germ phobia is identified by a number of names, such as spermatophobia, verminophobia, and fear of germs. The problem is so grave that it can have negative impacts on the social life of a person. The nagging problem can snatch a person's sanity and detach him from his loved ones.  The symptoms for germ phobia incorporate rapid breathing, sweating, irregular heartbeat, feelings of dread, nausea, shortness of breath and many more.

Actually the fear of germs can grip a person to such great extent, that the phobic may not eat food, not bathe, and not drink beverages; and the individual may confine himself/herself to a single room and a world of his/her own. Fear of germs can range from a relatively mild stage to an acute stage. More info can be found at this website: http://www.phobia-fear-release.com/germ-phobia-2.html .
You can help stop the spread of germs, according to the National Institutes of Health, by:
  • Covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. Sneeze or cough into your elbow, not your hands.
  • Cleaning your hands often - always before you eat or prepare food, and after you use the bathroom or change a diaper.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Much more material can be found at this site: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/germsandhygiene.html#cat1 .

Some germs can be bad for you if you don’t take the time to engage in preventive measures designed to keep you from getting sick. Much of this involves using common sense and very practical ways to eliminate the exposure to germs. However, if you do get sick, see your doctor. Even the very safest people encounter germs and get ill. Remember to always wash your hands as a precautionary measure, too. It just is the right thing to do, and it doesn’t take much time. Be careful. And Germaphobes: learn to relax a little.

Until next time.

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