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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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How Can I Prevent the Flu?

North Hills Shares Stomach Flu Prevention Tips on KRLD Radio

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It’s stomach flu season again, and North Hills Hospital is reaching out to the community to encourage stomach flu prevention. In fact, Chuck Schechner from KRLD Radio interviewed one of our E.R. nurses about the best ways to prevent this type of flu.

Please listen to their quick conversation here:

Flu Prevention KRLD Radio podcast

Would you like to prevent the stomach flu this year? The CDC recommends these quick steps:

  1. Get vaccinated.  There are two licensed rotavirus vaccines available and young children should be vaccinated in their first year.
  2. Wash your hands. By simply washing your hands, you can keep the flu virus from affecting you and your family. Keep hand sanitizer with you for those occasions when you don’t have access to soap and a sink.

For more information about the stomach flu, its symptoms and how it can be treated, please visit our online health library. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician, please call North Hills Hospital at (817) 255-1000.

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The Mommy Blog: Handling Immunizations