- You can not always avoid getting sick, but there are a few ways you can expose yourself to less potentially harmful germs.
- Whether at work, on the train or in a public restroom, transferring germs can occur simply by using a pen in the doctor's office or just touching your face – then you may want to keep your own writing utensil with you and keep your hands away from your nose, eyes and mouth.
- Regularly washing your hands and using hand sanitizer with more than 60% alcohol can help decrease your chances of getting sick.
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Although it is not always possible to avoid getting sick, there are many habits and daily activities that can expose you to more germs than you think. And while germs are not always bad and are not always dangerous, they can put you at risk of getting sick.
Here are some ways you can help decrease the risk of getting sick the next time you leave home. While these tips may be helpful, remember that it is not always possible to follow them and there are no guarantees that they will prevent you from getting sick.
Wash your hands well and often
It is important to always wash your hands after coughing or sneezing, before eating and after contacting someone who is sick, said Dr. Beth Donaldson, medical director and family physician at the Copeman Healthcare Clinic.
To prevent the spread of germs to you and others, the CDC recommends that you run your hands under water, soaping soap and rubbing them for at least 20 seconds. Then wash the soap with running water. This may not eliminate all types of germs but it is certainly better than nothing.
See More Information: The Most Popular Way to Avoid the Bathroom Germs is False – Here's What You Should Do
And always keep disinfectant to your hands with you
Although Donaldson has emphasized the importance of handwashing, she also noted that soap and water are not always available when you are away from home.
The next best thing is to use hand sanitizer when you're in public places, said Dr. Robert Segal, co-founder of Labfinder.com. Remarkably, you will want to use hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol, as the CDC says these can kill the same amount of germs as soap and water.
Keep another set of clothes in your car or in your purse.
"If you're on the bus, train, subway, daycare, school or work, you can pick up all kinds of bacteria and possibly other people's viruses and fungi and then bring them home," Jason Tetro, a microbiology researcher, and author of "The Germ Files," said Healthline.
Since you can never be sure how long these microbes will survive on clothing or if they are harmful, Segal said that you may want to store an extra set of clothes in your car or purse and swap them before entering your home.
"This is especially useful during the flu season. If you find someone with the flu or even a cough or cold, change your clothes before entering your home. You do not want to infect your home and the people who live in it, "Segal told INSIDER.
And then, make sure you wash your possibly contaminated clothes at the hottest temperature recommended on the labels of your clothes, according to the CDC.
Bring your own pen
Pens at places like doctors' offices or even shared workspaces can get covered in bacteria quickly – and some studies suggest that certain bacteria can survive on the surface of this writing utensil for hours or even days.
And although being exposed to bacteria does not mean that you will definitely get sick, this can put you at risk so it is important to bring your own pen when you go out, according to Segal.
As silly as it sounds, he said, it's important to treat him like his toothbrush – just like his. "If you leave, always have one in your bag so you do not have to use public pens in the bank, office or school. You do not want the germs to be transferred into your hands, "Segal said.
Avoid touching surfaces such as knobs and light switches when possible
Certain bacteria and viruses can live off the body and on hard surfaces for hours and sometimes even days. Some surfaces to be observed include door handles, light switches and bathroom faucets.
Although it is not always possible to avoid putting your hands on these surfaces, you should limit your contact with them. You should also avoid touching these things with your sleeve, as the germs can transfer to your clothing and come into contact with your eyes or mouth.
Instead, use something disposable, such as a tissue or a paper towel, to touch these surfaces. "[And] if you can open a door using your foot or elbow, do it instead of using your hands, "Segal told INSIDER.
Keep your dirty hands off your face
As much as you avoid touching public surfaces, this is likely to happen occasionally – so you also want to avoid touching your face, Segal said.
"His hands are often on dirty surfaces and it's best not to touch his face because his nose, eyes and mouth are very susceptible to germs," Segal told INSIDER.
For example, by Web MD, cold and flu viruses can enter your body through many sites of the face, including eyes, nose and mouth. If you need to touch your face, wash your hands first.
Stay hydrated – but try to avoid public water sources
"Dehydration weakens the defenses of your body, which can make you susceptible to germs," said Segal. Stay hydrated fight against this as it can help boost your immune system, he added.
That said, you should avoid public water sources if possible, Segal told INSIDER.
If you need to use them, do not touch your mouth at the fountain spout – you never know what kind of germs might be lurking. Instead, drink from the water flow or hold your own bottle of water with you so you can stay hydrated throughout the day.
Avoid eating something that you dropped on the floor.
The "five-second rule," or the idea of dropping food on the floor and not being contaminated by any germs if it's on the floor for five seconds or less, is not necessarily a great one.
"You may be fine, since most germs are harmless, but by eating something off the floor or on the counter, you are taking a calculated risk. It is possible that a cold or flu virus is on the surface, "said Thomas A. Ahrens, an infectious and critical care specialist at INSIDER.
As some studies have suggested, the longer the food stays on the floor, the more bacteria transfer to it. So while this means that it is safer to eat foods that are on the floor for a few seconds rather than a few minutes, you may not want to eat something that has fallen to the floor.
When dining out, be aware of what you ask for
If you plan to reduce the risk of food poisoning, keep in mind what you are asking for, especially if you are in a restaurant you do not know if you trust.
Bill Marler, a foodborne specialist and food poisoning expert, previously told Business Insider that some things he avoids ordering in restaurants include salads (lettuce can sometimes be contaminated with E. coli) and soft ice creams (machines can infected with listeria).
He said he also avoids asking for meat that is rare, noting that the meat should be cooked to finally 160 degrees Fahrenheit whole to kill the bacteria that can cause E. coli or salmonella.
see More Information: 11 Signs You Really Have Food Poisoning And Not A Stomach Mistake
While outside, order your drinks without ice
Although the ice does not necessarily make you sick in order to make mistakes on the safe side, you can order your drinks without it.
Several studies conducted in recent years have found that ice and ice machine contamination may not be as uncommon as you think, especially in fast-food joints. Whether due to dirty machines or employees who do not follow proper hygiene protocols, these frozen cubes can sometimes be contaminated by bacteria.