Infections are caused by pathogens—microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, or fungi. These foreign bodies enter the body, multiply, and interrupt regular functions. Also, infectious diseases are one of the main causes of death and illness in the US and throughout the world. For some people, especially those suffering from cancer or heart disease, those who have sustained serious injuries, or those who are taking prescribed medications that make the immune system weaker, getting an infection is almost inevitable.
Although people living in developed countries like the United States are relatively safer from infectious pathogens compared to those in poorer nations, these threats could still pose a significant risk. But if you’re healthy and follow these basic principles, there’s no need to constantly wear personal protective equipment unless you’re working in the medical field.
Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Family from Infection
There are ways to protect yourself and your family from infection. The following tips will decrease your family’s chances of contracting infectious diseases:
- Constant Hand Washing
Pathogens can survive on inert surfaces from a few seconds to a span of several months. So, you could get into contact with these microorganisms through your light switch, computer keyboard, doorknob, and any surface you touch. But most people only started to practice regular hand washing after the outbreak of COVID-19. Although we’re nearing the end of the pandemic, it’s important that you still wash your hands regularly.
Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that you need to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or more. After hand washing, you should also dry your hands by using a paper towel. But if you can’t find running water, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer will be enough although hand washing is still the gold standard.
- Don’t Let Other People Use Your Personal Items
Your toothbrushes, razors, towels, nail clippers, and handkerchiefs could be a way for pathogens to spread. Even though it’s good to share your other things, these personal items come into contact with sensitive parts of your body. You also need to remind other members of your family, especially children to avoid sharing these things with other people.
- Cover Your Mouth When You Sneeze or Cough
Aside from having good personal hygiene, you should also cover your mouth whenever you cough or sneeze. Even though you don’t feel sick, you should still do this as infectious agents could’ve already grown and developed in your system before you show symptoms.
When you cough or sneeze, you’re spreading droplets that could spread through the air and potentially infect other people. Also, you need to cover your mouth by using your arm, elbow, or sleeve rather than using your hands. You use your hands to touch a wide variety of surfaces, things, and people which could further spread the microbes.
- Get Vaccinated
Your immune system ‘remembers’ the infectious agents that have entered your body. When it encounters a microorganism that has made you sick in the past, it produces antibodies and white blood cells to stop them from multiplying and causing another infection.
But if you get vaccinated, you could ‘teach’ your body how to produce these antibodies so your immune system could recognize a particular pathogen. So, it could enhance your body’s defenses against another infection without you being infected first. That way you won’t have to go through the whole process or even acquire serious health issues.
Vaccines are very effective in protecting yourself and your family from infectious diseases, but you should still consult your doctor before taking a shot.
- Maintain Food Safety
Infectious diseases borne through food could arise from not following the standards of food preparation and bad eating habits. Also, pathogens could thrive on almost every food item, especially on those stored at room temperature. But refrigeration could help stem the growth of these infectious agents.
So, you need to store your food items in your refrigerator within 2 hours of cooking. You should also use different chopping boards for meats and vegetables, maintain the cleanliness of countertops, and wash ingredients thoroughly before cooking.
- Be Cautious but Smart Traveler
You could get infected easily while traveling especially to less affluent countries. If you want to go to a place where the water quality is doubtful, you need to ensure you find a safe source of water like bottled water if you want to drink or brush your teeth.
You should also refrain from eating raw dishes, fruits, and vegetables since these could harbor infectious agents. Finally, you should also make sure to follow the guidance of the CDC regarding recommended immunizations for your destination.
- Always Practice Safe Sex
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are among the infectious diseases which could be avoided easily. If you’re smart and always practice safe sex by using condoms, you could be safer from bacteria and viruses that could be detrimental to your health.
Keeping your whole family safe from infectious diseases is very important as some of them could cause serious health problems. Although the steps you need to take are quite simple, many people still fail to follow them regularly. By encouraging your family to take these into mind, you could keep them healthy and spend less on doctors’ visits and medical treatments.