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Why Wash Your Hands?

Sumi Tamang Page, RMT - Registered Massage Therapist

It sounds simple, right? The fact is that washing your hands prevents illness and the spread of infection to others. Hand washing with soap and clean water removes germs from hands but does everyone wash their hands as often as they should?

Remember germs aren't fussy - they are able to get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth quite easily. Skin and eye infections are common, especially considering how frequently many of us touch our eyes, nose and mouth without even realizing it.

The germs from unwashed hands can easily be transferred to other objects, like handrails, table tops or doorknobs and then transferred to another person. These germs can also get onto food and into drinks while they are being prepared and/or consumed. They can also be spread on the utensils at a buffet because germs rapidly multiply in certain types of food. You can see how under some conditions the spread of infections could be huge if basic hand washing is not followed.

The education of others on why it is so important to practice regular hand washing and how it helps the local communities stay healthy is essential. It helps to prevent the spread of germs that are proven to cause diarrhea (salmonella, E. coli O157 and norovirus), and prevent the spread of respiratory infections such as adenovirus, foot and mouth disease and the common cold and flu virus.

Here are a few facts from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) on the benefits of regular hand washing:

  • Reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 23-40%

  • Reduces diarrheal illness in people with a weakened immune system by 58%

  • Reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds and flu, within the general population by 16-21%

  • Reduces time lost due to gastrointestinal illness in school children by 29-57%

So, the next time you pass a hand sink, are you going to stop and wash your hands?

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