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How To Avoid Infection 101

How To Reduce Daily Risks Of Infection

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The following tips can help you avoid infection at a time when your body is most vulnerable:

Wash your hands.

  • Be sure to wash your hands extra well before you eat and before and after you use the bathroom. Preferably wash with warm water and soap for a minimum of 15 -- 20 seconds. (About as long as it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice).
  • Be sure to dry your hands completely. Water can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • When you exercise (subject to your doctor's approval), keep in mind that gyms generally have germs on all the equipment from all the use. Be particularly careful about washing your hands or applying disinfectant and not touching any part of your face until after you've washed.

Do not touch your face unless you just washed your hands.

  • Ideally, never touch your face, nose or mouth unless you've just washed your hands. Since this is not doable for most people, limit the touching as much as possible. 
  • One tip to reduce touching is to think all the time as if you are allergic to poison ivy, that it can spread by touch, and you have touched some. 
  • If you keep moist cleaning towels with you, you'll have the ability to clean your hands whenever you need to.

Check the local water supply.

  • Water that may be safe for an average person, may not be for a person with a lowered immune system.
  • Check to see if it is safe.
  • If the water is not safe, filter it, boil it, or drink bottled water (including for brushing your teeth). 

When you eat out

  • Only eat in places you believe follow food safety guidelines. 
  • If a nearby person is sick and coughing in your direction, move tables.
  • The need to eat nutritiously does not go away because you are eating out instead of eating at home.


  • Wear protective gloves when gardening.

When cleaning up:

  • After people and children: Wear protective gloves when cleaning up after others, especially small children.
  • After animals and pets: Speak to your doctor about how your pets or their care could affect your condition.

Immunization shots:

  • Do not get any immunization shots without first checking with your specialist.
  • Getting a flu shot can be particularly important for a person with a weak immune system. A weakened immune system makes it more likely that you will catch the flu. Ask your doctor when is the best time for you to get the shot.

Public restrooms:

  • Don't touch flush handles or faucets with bare hands. Use paper towels to do the work for you.
  • Don't touch a door handle, or pushing the door with your bare hands. Use your arm or elbow.
  • Do not put a purse or bag on the floor.

Avoid people with active infectious diseases as much as possible.

  • Stay away from people who have active diseases that you can catch, such as a cold, the flu, measles, or chickenpox.
  • If you have to be with them: 
    • Be particularly cautious about touching your face with your hands until you get a chance to wash them. 
    • Ask them to cover their mouth when they cough.

At the office:

  • Wash your hands immediately after using someone else's keyboard or telephone.
  • Use paper towel on microwave door handles or communal coffee makers.
  • Don't touch escalator rails or elevator buttons with bare hands.

At the doctor's office:

  • Bring your own reading material. Cold and flu viruses can survive on the pages of magazines. 
  • If you do use the doctor's reading material, do not moisten your finger in your mouth when turning the pages. Keep your hands away from your face until you have a chance to wash your hands.

NOTE: Tests show that mobile phones are covered with germs, including high levels of bacteria. Check with the phone manufacturer to find out what you can use to clean the phone with a bacteria killing cleanser.

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