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To Stay Healthy this Fall and Winter? Wash Your Hands! The Simplest Way

To Stay Healthy this Fall and Winter? Wash Your Hands! The Simplest Way

As summer turns to fall, lots of people (children and adults alike) will be spending more time inside and in closer proximity to one-another. Washing your hands is something simple we can all do to keep our schools, workplaces and homes just a little bit healthier. In fact, it’s actually been identified by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the single most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

But researchers at Michigan State University recently found that only about 1 person in 20 actually washes his or her hands properly in even the most obvious hand washing scenario—after using a public restroom. According to a summary by writer Lindsay Abrams of the Atlantic:

“Of 3,749 people observed leaving the bathrooms, 66.9 percent used soap, while 10.3 percent didn’t wash their hands at all. The other 23 percent of people stopped at wetting their hands, in what the researchers, for some reason, call “attempted washing” (as if maybe those people just weren’t sure how to follow through). Although the researchers generously counted the combined time spent washing, rubbing, and rinsing, only 5.3 percent of people spent 15 seconds or longer doing so, thus fulfilling the requirements of proper handwashing. They average time spent was 6 seconds.

Why Hand Washing?

Bacterial and viral infections can be spread when the hands come into contact with infectious respiratory secretions and carry them elsewhere. This happens most often as a result of someone coughing, sneezing, shaking hands, or touching an object that has been in the proximity of a sick person and then touching the face—particularly the nose, mouth or eyes. This is one of the primary ways of transmitting the virus that causes the common cold.

Washing your hands after using the toilet or changing a diaper is of utmost importance, as the ingestion of even the smallest amount of fecal matter can cause serious illness from deadly pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella, giardiasis and hepatitis A, among others. You should also be particularly careful about washing your hands after touching garbage, handling animals or animal waste, visiting or caring for an ill person, or if your hands show visible dirt.

Those who handle food should routinely wash their hands, not only after using the toilet, but also after touching raw meat, fish or poultry, since the microbes present on uncooked food can cause gastrointestinal infections ranging from mild to severe or even life-threatening.

Perhaps those with the greatest need to wash their hands on a regular basis are healthcare workers. Because they’re constantly exposed to sick patients and patients with weakened immune systems, and since they frequently come into contact with contaminated surfaces, these professionals have a special responsibility. Before the importance of hand washing was widely understood within the healthcare community, millions of people became sick or died from infections passed along on the hands of their caregivers. During the 19th century, up to 25% of women died in childbirth from childbed fever (puerperal sepsis), a disease subsequently found to be caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes. After hand washing was introduced as a standard practice in the delivery room, the rate of death dropped to less than 1%.

It All Begins With Hand Awareness

Here are the “4 Principles of Hand Awareness”:

  1. Wash your hands when they are dirty and BEFORE eating
  2. DO NOT cough into your hands
  3. DO NOT sneeze into your hands
  4. Above all, DO NOT put your fingers into your eyes, nose or mouth

How to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

To wash your hands properly, you need only two things: soap and clean, running water. If these two things are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has a minimum 60% alcohol content.

Before washing your hands, remove all rings and other jewelry. Using running water, wet your hands thoroughly, then apply enough soap to work up a nice lather. Keeping your hands out of the water, rub them together, being sure to scrub both the front and backs of your hands, including your wrists, and also washing between the fingers and under the nails. Do this for 20 seconds, then rinse completely under the running water. Be sure to turn off the taps with a paper towel rather than your bare hand. According to the CDC, the whole process should take about as much time as singing “Happy Birthday” twice.

But What About Drying?

The Mayo Clinic recently published its own comprehensive review and analysis of every known hand washing-related study produced since 1970. Interestingly, their researchers found that drying hands was a key part of preventing the spread of bacteria. They also concluded that paper towels are better than blowers for this purpose. Here’s some of their reasoning:

  • Most people prefer paper towels to blowers, so they’re more likely to use them.
  • Blowers take too long, encouraging people to wipe their newly-cleaned hands on dirty pants or to skip the step altogether.
  • It takes less energy to manufacture a paper towel than it does to dry hands with a blower.
  • Blowers dry out the skin on your hands.
  • Blowers scatter bacteria three to six feet from the device.

As chiropractic physicians, we have a special interest in helping our patients (and non-patients, for that matter) avoid illness and injury. This means helping them develop healthy lifestyle habits—like regular hand washing—that prevent disease. We also work closely with them in areas like diet, exercise, sleep and stress management. If you’d like to learn more about what we can do to help you stay healthy and live your life to its fullest, please call or visit our office today!

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What’s Your New Year Plan?

What’s Your New Year Plan?

iStock_000016576964SmallEach year millions of people make New Year’s resolutions and each year millions fail to accomplish the desired results.  Why is this? Because a resolution represents change, something many people are resistant to…in fact, some even fear it.  Positive changes are never easy, but will always result in personal growth.  Mahatma Gandhi said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.  The two most important words in this quote are “YOU” and “BE”.  “Be” is who you are, not merely how you act, it is what drives your actions.  The reason so many fail to achieve success with their resolutions is they attempt to change what they “DO” instead of changing who they “BE” inside.

Let’s consider the BE-DO-HAVE concept, which states that in order to achieve a desired result you must BE the type of person who will DO the things necessary to HAVE the desired outcome.  Most people fall into the trap of attempting to change their actions (DO) without first changing who they are and how they think (BE).

For example, have you ever had a resolution that involved losing a certain amount of weight by trying some new fad diet?  You may have been successful in the short term by following the recommended diet, but chances are you reached your goal and the diet went out the door and the pounds came back on.  This is a classic example of trying to modify your actions without changing who you are and how you think.  This approach will fail every time the focus is on the DOING not the Being.

Back to the title, “What is your New Year plan”? I will try to help you with a few quick and easy, but powerful tools to help you succeed.

1) Set Goals
The number one rule of goal setting is that your goals must be written.  Writing your goals will materialize your thoughts… and thoughts motivate action.  A useful acronym to help with goal setting is S.M.A.R.T.  Make your goals Specific (you are more likely to achieve a specific goal than a general goal), Measurable (must have criteria for measuring progress), Attainable (Make sure you have or are developing the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity necessary for achieving your goal), Realistic (must represent an objective that you are willing and able to work towards), and Timely (must have a timeframe for accomplishing your goal).

2) Visual Success
Visualization is a process of holding a thought in your mind and allowing it to propagate into a mental picture that you can see, hear, feel, smell, and even taste.  If you visualize yourself achieving your goals you are more likely to be successful. Implementing these tools and concepts will help you not only achieve, but sustain your New Year’s resolutions.

3) Affirm Your Intentions
Affirmations are positive statements that stimulate your mind with an attitude of  Expectancy and are your opportunity to condition yourself to be exactly who you want to be.  Some examples include: “I can do anything I want to do!”, “I am a happy person!”, “I am worthy of success!”, and “I am health!”  Affirmations should always be written and read with regularly and should support whatever it is that you are working towards.  They should be written in first person and in present tense.  For example “I am…” vs. “I will…” Affirmations are best done at the beginning of your day and should be carried around with you as a reminder, and most importantly they should be said aloud with enthusiasm!

December is a great month to start organizing your New Year Plan.  My hope is that you will utilize and share this information with others so that we may all BE the change we wish to see in the world.  As Thomas S. Monson says, “The Future is as bright as our Faith.” Where can you go in 2013 and what can you accomplish if you exercise faith in yourself and in your ability to learn to make great choices? Here’s to a bright future!

PS – If weight loss is a part of the changes you are seeing for yourself in 2013, let us help! Our weight loss program is designed to help you make a successful transition in not only reducing your weight but in your health habits and life choices as well! Go to www.healthyhabitsbillings.com or call our office at 406-652-3553

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