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Proper Handwashing and Other Flu Prevention Tips

It’s that time of the year when El Paso doctors start seeing more cases of influenza and other flu-related illnesses. While it’s not foolproof, the flu shot is still the best way to protect against influenza flu. But, good personal hygiene including hand washing can also help to reduce your risk of getting sick from the flu or spreading it to others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges better, more frequent hand washing as the first line of defense against influenza flu. The CDC writes, “Along with your annual flu shot, the best method to avoid the spread of seasonal flu is to adopt a rigorous hand hygiene approach, with proper hand washing being essential.”
Proper Handwashing
It is recommended that hands are scrubbed (or vigorously rubbed together) under warm or hot water for at least 20 seconds. Elementary school taught us that a good way to time your handwashing it is to hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end…two times.

However, there are also situations where soap and water is not available and handwashing is not possible. For example, after a sneeze while in the car driving, at work in a meeting or at a public facility. In these situations, the use of hand sanitizer is recommended. Carrying hand sanitizer in your bag is a good practice.
Here are five more tips from the CDC to help battle the flu this year:

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. And, if you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick. 
  2. Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness. 
  3. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Properly dispose of tissues in covered waste baskets. Immediately wash hands or use a hand sanitizer after a cough or sneeze, whenever possible.  
  4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth .
  5. Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.

The Benjamin Franklin axiom that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is as true today as it was when Franklin made the quote, especially when talking about the flu. Heed Ben’s advice and ours and stay well El Paso.