When you think about how colds and the flu spread, you may be picturing germs in the air from coughing and sneezing — but in reality, 80% of common infections spread via hand contact. Germs from dirty hands are a leading cause of gastrointestinal illnesses and respiratory infections. As I tell my patients, proper handwashing using soap and clean running water is an extremely effective way to stop the spread of these infections. In fact, handwashing can reduce the risk of gastrointestinal illness by 31% and the risk of respiratory illness by 21%.
If you have chronic lung disease, reducing your risk for infections is a crucial factor in preventing exacerbations of your condition. Here’s how regular handwashing can help improve your overall health.
What Happens When You Don’t Wash Your Hands?
Your hands are a breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria and viruses. These germs linger on your hands after you use the restroom, touch raw food, take care of someone who’s sick or handle garbage. Bacteria can remain on your hands and other objects for up to several days if it’s not washed off right away. Germs are easily transferable from your hands onto objects, other people and other parts of yourself. If you touch contaminated objects and then touch your own eyes, nose or mouth, bacteria and viruses can enter your body and cause disease.
Handwashing can potentially stop the transmission of several illnesses, including the common cold, influenza, diarrhea, norovirus, hepatitis A, meningitis, E. coli, MRSA, salmonella, shigella and pink eye.
How Handwashing and Chronic Lung Disease Are Linked
When you have chronic lung disease, preventing infections is a critical component of your wellness plan. Infections — especially respiratory infections — can cause symptom flare-ups, hospitalizations and faster decline of your condition. If you have compromised lung function, even catching a common cold or flu increases your risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia or sepsis.
To reduce your risk of catching and spreading bacterial or viral infections, wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and clean, running water in the following situations:
- Before and after preparing food
- After going to the bathroom
- After spending time with someone who is sick
- After treating a cut, scrape or wound
- After walking a pet, touching animal food and handling animal waste
- After taking out the garbage
- After working outside
- After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
How Cellular Therapy Can Help Treat Chronic Lung Disease
If you have chronic lung disease, cellular therapy has the potential to help you Breathe Easier™. Cellular therapy is a treatment that uses platelet-rich plasma-platelet concentrate (PRP-PC) to reduce airway inflammation and slow the progression of your condition. In clinical studies, PRP-PC has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties. Reduced inflammation strengthens your immune system and helps your body fight off infections like the cold and flu. Along with self-care measures like proper handwashing, cellular therapy treatment could help you decrease your risk for flare-ups.
If you are interested in learning more or scheduling a free consultation, contact a Lung Health Institute patient coordinator today.