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The simple act of washing your hands can prevent many illnesses.

“Did you wash your hands?”

For many of us, that was a question we heard often when we were growing up. But hand hygiene is not just for kids. Proper and frequent handwashing is a key way to promote good health. Since National Handwashing Awareness Week is underway, we’re offering some facts about this simple but important act.

Dirty Hands Can Spread Disease

Respiratory and other illnesses can spread if bacteria and viruses get on the hands and the hands touch mucous membranes. Thorough handwashing can limit the spread of such illnesses as:

  • The common cold
  • Influenza
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Salmonella and other gastrointestinal disorders
  • Hepatitis A
  • Meningitis

When to Wash

Recommended times to wash your hands can be grouped in several categories:

  • Handling Food:

    • Before cooking
    • While cooking
    • After cooking
    • Before eating
  • Addressing Medical Issues:

    • Before and after taking care of a sick person
    • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • Dealing With Pets:

    • After touching an animal or its waste
    • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • Dealing With Bodily Fluids

    • After using the toilet
    • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

You should also wash after touching garbage.

How to Wash

The best way to wash is with clean, warm, running water and soap. When soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is a good substitute. Some procedures to follow include:

  • Removing all hand jewelry
  • Creating a soapy lather and be sure to scrub between fingers and the back of the hands
  • Humming “Happy Birthday to You” to yourself twice, to make sure you wash the suggested 20 seconds
  • Washing and drying your hands thoroughly

The team at North Hills Hospital knows the importance of good hand hygiene. We also know that the you might still develop an illness no matter how well and how often you wash. We’re here to help any time you get sick. If you’d like a physician referral, call us at 1-855-5NHILLS.

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Learn how to help your kids have a safe, happy school year.

It’s hard to believe that we’re already approaching back to school time. As you shop for school supplies and school clothes, keep safety in mind. Try these simple back to school health tips to give your child a healthy advantage this school year.

Keep up to date with vaccinations
Consult with the National Network for Immunization Information to find out which immunizations your child needs before the school year starts. When flu shots are ready later in the year, make sure your child gets his or her flu shot.

Prepare healthier school lunches
Avoid foods that are loaded with sugar and preservatives when you pack your child’s school lunches. Stick to whole foods as often as possible, and switch things up to keep your child engaged. Get older kids involved with shopping for lunches and preparing them.

Teach your child about bike safety
Kids grow quickly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends making sure helmets fit properly and bikes are fitted properly to the rider. Check your child’s size before school and take time to review basic safety rules.

Talk to your child about peers
Don’t ignore the social aspects of school. While it’s important to focus on education and study skills, you also need to talk to your kids about their social encounters. Have age-appropriate conversations about difficult topics such as cheating, bullying, drug and alcohol abuse, and peer pressure.

Discuss healthy habits
Remind your child to wash their hands thoroughly after using the restroom and before meals. Make a habit out of encouraging everyone in the family to wash their hands as soon as they return home from school and work.

Learn more about kids' health at North Hills Hospital. To find a doctor to speak with, please call 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral.

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Learn how to keep yourself and your family safe this flu season.

The flu is on the rise. With active flu season in full force and some areas reaching epidemic rates, it’s more important than ever to learn how to prevent the flu. Be diligent and do what you can to keep yourself and your family safe from this highly contagious virus.

Practice efficient and frequent handwashing.
According to the CDC, many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. The first defense against the flu is to wash your hands frequently and wash them well. Practice washing your hands thoroughly and teach your children to do the same. Bring hand sanitizer with you for times when you can’t access soap and water. Wash before meals, before and after touching your face, and every time you get home.

Take care of your body.
Don’t let your immune system get run down with stress, lack of sleep or poor diet. It’s important to take care of yourself so that you’re not more susceptible to germs. Try to maintain a regular fitness routine on top of a healthy, balanced diet. If you’re experiencing stress, work on finding ways to cope and to limit the stressors in your life. Take a multivitamin if your doctor recommends it.

Get a flu shot and go to the doctor when you’re sick.
Doctors may be able to prescribe antiviral medication to help limit flu symptoms if caught within 48 hours. If you think you may be coming down with the flu, get medical help as soon as possible. Don’t go to work or send kids to school. If someone in your home is sick with the flu, be extra vigilant about keeping germs contained and washing hands frequently. Remember to get your flu shot if you haven’t taken care of it already.

Take control of your health and safety this flu season. Visit North Hills Hospital online for a list of family physicians offering the flu vaccine, or call 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral.

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