My young cousin posted on Facebook a few weeks ago about her daughter, recently into the new school year, being home sick with a gastrointestinal illness. A friend of my cuz’s pondered that, since the girl seemed to come down with the same illness around the same time every year, maybe she had an allergy of some sort.
No, no and no.
A nurse friend of mine posted the other day about her teenaged son coming home with vomiting and remarked she hoped she didn’t get it, too. All of my nurse friends should know the answer to this one…
It’s all about proper hand hygiene, peeps!
I hate to tell some of you this, but most GI illnesses (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) are caused by germs which are largely transmitted via an oral-oral or fecal-oral route. Yes, that really does mean someone’s poop being introduced into the mouth of the person who gets sick. Now, maybe that is enough to get you to wash your hands!
“But our kids all have their little bottles of hand sanitizer and use them,” you protest.
Antibacterial, chemical hand sanitizers serve their purpose, when and only when there is not the availability of good old soap and water. I’m not a big fan of hand sanitizers. First, I fear their antibacterial properties might actually encourage antimicrobial resistance in some bugs. Secondly, except for a fraction of the population (healthcare workers), they are usually not used in sufficient quantity or thoroughly enough for the task ‘at hand.’ ;) A little spit and promise ain’t gonna cut it.
Nothing beats some clean, warm water and liquid or bar soap…plain old soap.,..and mechanical friction. I know the CDC says to sing Happy Birthday twice while handwashing but I’m not sure we can keep our kids engaged for that long while not hanging over them so I propose the following… Just get your hands wet, your whole hands up to the wrists. Get enough soap on your hands to create a lather…lather is bubbles and bubbles can be fun to play with! Get the lather bubbles on all parts of your hands…front, back, thumbs and in between the fingers. (Squish the bubbles between your fingers if you want. Mom’s not here to tell you not to.)
That’s it! Then rinse all the soap off, shake your hands and dry with towels / paper towels or, better yet, under a nice, warm hand dryer blower! Try not to touch things on the way out and, please, keep our hands away from your face and mouth as much as possible.
If you ALWAYS wash hands like this before eating and don’t drink out of someone else’s glass, I bet you can make it through the winter vomit-free! Wouldn’t that be great?