There are many different types of way that our body can be harmed and many different threats that can put our health and well being at risk. Some of these may be threats that we can clearly see and are well aware of. Poor Hygiene is one of these threats.
If a person is running at me with a Butcher Knife and screaming I would not assume that they are going to cut the meat of some cow. I would assume quite rightly so that this person wants to inflict serious damage to me and my life may even be at risk. I would therefore immediately do what I can to protect myself e.g. Run away and scream for help.
However, there is an external threat that is not so easily identifiable to our bodies which still remains as creating great potential risks for our well being. These are known as, “Pathogens.” These include Viruses, Bacteria and Fungi. You may be aware of some popular forms of these in the News including the Ebola Virus, E Coli Bacteria and Salmonella.
Infectious Diseases continue to be a huge problem and a massive burden for many countries even including First World/Developed countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States.
In January 2017, the UK’s Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology had released a report stating that Infectious Diseases contribute for 7% of deaths and put a financial burden of £30 billion on the UK Government. (1)
In the United States, during the 2017-2018 flu season, it was reported that Pneumonia and Influenza contributed for more than 10.4% of deaths. (2)
But do not worry. There is also good news. In fact there are many ways in which we can work towards decreasing the cases of infectious diseases. One of the most simplest, easiest and most important ways of doing so is ensuring that we are taking care of our personal hygiene.
In an article published by the Harvard Medical School, it had stated that, “The first line of defence is to keep germs at bay by following good personal hygiene habits.” (3)
Here is a non-extensive list of steps you can implement to ensure that you are looking after your personal hygiene:
Wash your hands thoroughly with Soap/Hand-wash/ before and after eating, before and after preparing food, after using the toilet and whenever you participate in any activities that involve you dealing with dirty substances.
Cleaning After Using Toilet
Properly clean yourself after using the toilet. You may be able to install a small bidet shower in your toilet but if this is not possible then you may use a small cleaning vessel which is commonly used in South Asian cultures.
Make sure you shower often. This does not mean that you need to do multiple showers a day. Shower about once a day or once every two days.
After getting a cut, wash the area with water and apply bandages/plasters as needed.
Sneeze/cough into a tissue or at a minimum, your elbow. If you happen to sneeze into your hands then wash them AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Avoiding Dirty Objects
Avoid sharing objects such as tissues/handkerchiefs that have previously been used by someone else.
Brushing Your Teeth
Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Remember to not go to extremes in brushing your teeth as this can damage your gums, enamel, etc.
Want to do some technical reading on Hygiene? Here is a PDF Link to a book from Harvard University, “The Human Body and its Enemies.”
Pages 12-14 are especially relevant to this topic.
(1) : UK Trends in Infectious Diseases – Parliament.uk (Number 545)