Spring is in full-swing with flowers and trees blooming and pollinating making it challenging for allergy sufferers to keep coughing and sneezing symptoms at bay. With seasonal changes we are at an increased risk of exposure to germs that can make us sick and passing them around. Therefore, we need to be just as vigilant about prevention.
Allergy sufferers that are sneezing and coughing droplets into the air and touching their itchy eyes are unwittingly then spreading germs on to surfaces in which we can easily pick them up and then transfer around, thus keeping the cycle of germ transmission ongoing.
According to a 2016 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, droplets from a person sneezing can travel anywhere from 13 to 26 feet.
Germs that land on surfaces we touch throughout the day including handrails on public buses and subways, shopping cart handles, car doorknobs, elevator buttons, bathroom handles and keypads at the register, put us at risk for getting sick yet with proper hand hygiene measures exercised we can reduce our exposure.
While cold and flu season seems a distant memory, staying health and staving off illness during allergy season requires that we continue to implement measures to reduce exposure to germs that can be prevented.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 80 percent of all infections that make us sick are picked up and transmitted by our hands. While we cannot control all the germs around us, we can arm ourselves with tools and approaches to prevent picking up and transmitting germs, so we can be healthy and happy this spring season.
Hand washing remains the gold standard to getting rid of germs on hands. However, if it is not done the right way, then we can re-contaminate our hands again the moment we touch the next surface at home or in public.
As a microbiologist studying and testing germs for over 30 years, here are recommendations I encourage:
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It is important for us to keep our immune systems healthy and adopt hygienic measures like proper handwashing and using long-lasting hand sanitizer that can deliver “persistent and residual efficacy,” which are crucial to killing germs immediately and reducing our risk for infections.