We live in a dangerous world where every few years, dangerous new epidemics like Coronavirus, Ebola, SARS, MERS, Avian Flu wreak havoc and claim thousands of lives. Lifestyle illnesses and non-communicable diseases like diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, heart disorders, obesity and cancer are on the rise. The picture is bleak.
But the good news according to researchers is that as many as a million deaths can be avoided every year if people do something as simple as maintaining hand hygiene.
It is not an exaggeration to say that washing hands can save lives.
How does hand washing help?
Our hands are a magnet for harmful microbes. We touch surfaces and things that had been handled by others like bus or train handrails, currency notes, toilet flush, elevator buttons foods etc.
Any of these objects could contain deadly viruses or bacteria left there when it was touched by an infected person. And when we touch our faces, eyes or mouth with unwashed hands, these microbes enter our bodies and make us ill.
But just 1 minute of thorough hand washing can reduce the microbial count of our hands by 99%! Soap and hand wash can rupture and destroy multiple colonies of germs. The rest are simply removed and washed away.
A list of illnesses that can be prevented by washing hands
Though it is a respiratory disease, which spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes in the vicinity. But the virus can live on objects for as long as 72 hours. If you handle an object where the viruses are alive they can travel into your body. But washing hands can remove the coronavirus from your hands.
The influenza virus spreads the same way as coronavirus and can enter a healthy person either directly from the infected person or through contaminated objects.
This painful disease is transmitted when you touch anything that came in contact with the fluids secreted by the infected person’s eyes.
Diarrhoea is caused by viruses like norovirus, rotavirus or bacteria like salmonella or campylobacter. Poor sanitation or personal hygiene can make diarrhoea contagious especially if the faecal matter of the infected person ends up in your hands.
Salmonella typhi, the bacteria that causes typhoid can be present in the faecal matter of an infected person. And if the sanitation infrastructure is shoddy, our hands will come in contact with particles of faecal matter.
Chickenpox and measles
Both are severe viral infections and the pathogens may enter your system by simple hand contact unless you wash them thoroughly.
The virus that causes Hepatitis A spreads through hand contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids or faecal matter.
It's not just infected food that gives you food poisoning. You may be eating fresh foods from decontaminated utensils but your hands could be the cause of the infection. Many of us have colonies of staphylococcus bacteria on our skin and these bacteria can cause food poisoning. But taking showers everyday and washing hands before eating can prevent many cases of food poisoning.
Just a little bit of caution and personal hygiene on our part can keep not just us but our loved ones safe from dangerous illnesses.
Hand washing is an integral part of personal hygiene. This simple act alone can prevent the spread of many deadly illnesses like COVID-19, cholera, typhoid, chickenpox, hand foot and mouth disease, conjunctivitis etc. In some cases, it can save your life.
But there are certain guidelines for washing hands. If you do it the correct way, you can eliminate up to 99% of the germs on your hands.
So, let us discuss a few things you must and must not do when it comes to cleaning your hands.
Do remember to wash your hands before-
Feeding a child
Applying or removing your contact lenses
Caring for an ailing person
Pouring pet food into your pet’s food bowl
Do clean your hands after-
Using the washroom
Sneezing or coughing into your hands
Handling the trash or your trash can
Feeding a child
Petting a dog or cat
Handling animal waste such as dog faeces
Coming home from outside
Handling currency notes, coins or the ATM card
Touching anything that is regularly used by others like handrails, doorknobs, elevator buttons etc.
A few more important do’s
Urge your child to wash hands. Make sure his/her hands are clean at all times.
Teach children the right way of handwashing and supervise them until they learn.
Remove your watch before wetting your hands.
Scrub your hands thoroughly with running water before using soap as that alone will dislodge many of the germs.
If you are using liquid soap, you will need 3-5 ml.
If you like to use a bar of soap, rinse it before washing your hands to remove dirt from its surface.
If your hands are dirty, wash them as many times as needed.
Your hands must be at a lower level than your elbows. Otherwise, the soapy water that contains germs might run down your arms.
Wash every inch of your hands. Focus on the areas between your fingers and the backs of the hands
Rub your hands for 30-60 seconds. The longer you do it, the cleaner your hands become.
Turn off the tap while you are scrubbing and turn it back on when it’s time to wash your hands.
Use a nailbrush or a soft old toothbrush to clean your nails.
Rinse your hands thoroughly, make sure no soapsuds linger.
Keep a clean hand towel or a cotton handkerchief with you. Pat your hands clean.
Do’s for hand sanitizers
Make sure the product has not exceeded it’s ‘sell-by’ date.
Ensure that it contains at least 60% alcohol.
Squirt out a dollop onto your palms and spread evenly to all parts of your hands.
Don’t wear a ring or wristlet while handwashing. Hand ornaments will prevent the area they encircle from being cleaned. Don’t forget to regularly disinfect rings.
Don’t use insufficient amounts of handwash or hand sanitizer.
Don’t use warm water.
Handwashing is a habit that can benefit everyone. So we should all pledge to do it at the right times and the right way.
All year round, we are vulnerable to an array of health disorders, be it due to poor lifestyle choices, a pre-existing disease, or changing climate/weather. While most people focus on the cure of grave diseases, the most common ailments are often overlooked. One such condition is cold and flu – a viral infection of the nose and throat. Although the infection usually occurs in winters, the viruses causing cold and flu can make you fall sick anytime, and when you do, you are forced to sit back at home and keep away from people because the infection is contagious.
What are the symptoms?
If you catch a bad cold and flu, you are likely to experience the following symptoms –
• Runny nose
• A sore throat
• Body or muscle aches
• Fever and chills
Usually, the symptoms resolve in a week or two and most people recover on their own. However, if the condition does not improve and if you fall sick repeatedly, you might have to turn to medications.
Who gets a cold and flu?
Ever wondered ‘Why am I getting sick all the time’? That is probably because you have a weak immune system. Certain autoimmune conditions exhaust the immune system and make you prone to infections, flu and cold. People, who have chronic immune conditions, tend to fall sick and take longer to recover.
How do you stop from getting sick?
If you have been falling sick more than once in every few months, then you can ask your doctor for supplements that will help build your immunity. Probiotics, zinc supplements, and vitamin supplements are good for cold and flu. You can also avoid getting cold and flu following a few preventive measures, such as the following –
• Get vaccinated against flu and cold, influenza, and seasonal allergies
• Keep your surroundings clean and free from pollutants because such viral infections are air-borne. If you need to go out, make sure you are using a mask to cover the mouth and the nose.
• Viruses that make you sick often spread by coming in contact with an infected person or contaminated surfaces. Therefore, you must always practice good hygiene. Wash your hands with soap or a sanitizer immediately after touching an unclean surface. Also, make sure you clean your hands before eating.
• Exercise at least thrice or four times a week. Any sort of physical activity helps build immunity, improves your overall health and reduces the risk of a number of ailments.
• Eat a balanced diet that includes enough proteins, fibre, healthy fats and lots of fluid. It is very important to keep yourself hydrated, especially in summer to avoid falling sick. The above measures not only prevent you from contracting flu and cold but also keep a dozen other ailments at bay.
Influenza and its homoeopathic therapeutics
● influenza, commonly known as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus.
● symptoms can be mild to severe.
● the most common symptoms include: high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle and joint pain, headache, coughing, and feeling tired.
● these symptoms typically begin two days after exposure to the virus and most last less than a week.
● the cough, however, may last for more than two weeks.
● in children, there may be diarrhea and vomiting, but these are not common in adults.
● diarrhea and vomiting occur more commonly in gastroenteritis, which is an unrelated disease and sometimes inaccurately referred to as" stomach flu" or the" 24-hour flu.
● complications of influenza may include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumonia, sinus infections, and worsening of previous health problems such as asthma or heart failure.
● Ars. Alb: It is the head remedy for influenza. Even if it is given indiscriminately, it cures 95 per cent of cases. Its indications are- restlessness with thirst for small quantities of water at short intervals, sneezing, running from the nose which is thin and acrid. It may be tried in post- influenza symptoms when carbo veg. Fails.
● Sulphur: It is inter-current remedy which should never be forgotten in the treatment of influenza. If the temperature does not subside within 48 hours, this remedy should be given in 200 dilution on empty stomach early in the morning. It may complete the cure or help in the selection of other remedies by clearing up the symptoms. When this remedy is administered, no other medicine should be given for at least 12 hours.
● Gelsemium: It should be thought of in early stages of flu. It has sneezing, frequent and violent chilliness up and down the back, face flushed, dark red; watery discharge from the nose which is bland (non-irritant). Aching pain in the muscles. No thirst but severe headache.
● Eupatorium perf: It is indicated in fever with chill followed by vomiting of bile. Shivering runs down the back and spreads to extremities. There is deep pain in the bones relieved by pressure and movement. Thirst, but water tastes saltish or oily. Coryza with sneezing, hoarseness and loose cough. Dryness of the body.
● Bryonia: It is indicated when flu is complicated with pneumonia. There are shooting pains in muscles which are aggravated (increased) by least movement. Dry hacking cough causing much pain in the lungs and chest. Sweating of the body.
● Kali bich: It is for cough after fever which is not dry. Sticky phlegm which can be drawn into a thread. There is weakness, ulceration of the mucus membrane of the nose, dryness with pain at the root of the nose and clinkers.
● Nat. Sulph: It is specific for epidemic influenza.
● Rhus tox: It is helpful in flu with constant chilliness as if cold water was poured over the body or as if the blood ran cold through the veins, with pains in limbs. Restlessness and the patient tosses about which gives relief. The tongue is dry with triangular tip. Hard tickling cough.
● Dulcamara: One of the best remedies in acute form. Eyes suffused, throat sore; cough hurts due to muscular soreness, brought on by wet or change to cold weather.
● Causticum: High fever, flushed face, no chilliness, much prostration, could hardly get out of bed. Nose stopped, coryza free, watery. Hoarseness. Dry hacking cough which is persistent.
● Carduus m: It is useful for flu when liver is affected.
● Influenzinum: It is a nosode and should be given as an inter-current remedy when other well selected remedies fail to improve the condition. It is given as preventive in epidemic form of flu. It also cures. Treatment may be started with this.
● Carbo veg: An excellent remedy for post-influenzal symptoms such as prostration, lack of energy, residual bronchitis, burning in soles of feet as if from a red pepper.
● Ammonia carb: Cough after influenza when bryonia and other remedies fail. For such a cough ammonia carb, should be tried first.
● Baptisia: In epidemic influenza with besotted countenance, bleary eyes, aching head, sore throat, pains and soreness all over the body and profound prostration. Stupid look with stupor from which it is difficult to arouse the patient.
● Lycopodium: When literary persons are unable to get to work again after flu; this remedy will cure them.
Children are constantly complaining about running noses and flu. This is part of their process of strengthening immunity and hence every child must go through this phase. Prescribing antibiotics every time a child sneezes worsens the situation by weakening their immunity. Hence, when it comes to children, homeopathy is an excellent form of treatment. Homeopathy can be prescribed to children of all ages.
Homeopathy addresses the physical, mental and emotional characteristics of a child and addresses the root of the problem. Though it has negligible side effects, apart from a few homeopathic medicines, it is always a good idea to consult a homeopathic practitioner before administering medicine to a child. Some homeopathic medicines that are commonly prescribed for children’s problems are:
Aconite- This is used to treat the sudden onset of any illness or any illness in its early stages. Aconite is most often prescribed to treat flu and common colds. It can also be used to calm a child in case of sudden shock or fright.
Arnica- Children are constantly falling and bruising themselves and arnica is the best first aid. Arnica can be ingested in pill form or applied topically in cream or gel form. It is useful for bruises, sore muscles, burns and black eyes but should never be applied topically over broken skin.
Calcarea Carbonate- This is used to treat ear infections and colds that are a result of exposure to cold weather. It can also be used to treat babies who perspire excessively from their head and complain of the heat and pulsating sensations in their ears.
Chamomilla- This homeopathic remedy is ideal for restlessness, caused by teething, ear troubles, colic etc. It can also be used to treat bedwetting and diarrhoea. A cup of chamomile tea before going to bed can also help a child sleep well.
Pulsatilla- This homeopathic remedy can be used to calm nervous and whiny children who alternate between extreme happiness and sadness. It is also efficient when it comes to treating ear aches that become worse at night and colds accompanied by a yellow or yellow-green mucous discharge.
Sulphur- Sulphur is used to treat earaches accompanied by perspiration and redness of the ears. It can also be used to treat skin problems such as scaly skin and acne eruptions. Irritable children who complain excessively after having a warm bath or getting out of a warm bed can also be calmed with sulphur.
Flu vaccine is against influenza (flu). Signs and symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, coughing and sore throat. Life-threatening complications may also occur.
Why do I need a flu vaccine?
Normal changes in the immune system that occurs during pregnancy increase the risk of complications due to flu. Pregnancy complications such as preterm labour may also increase. Asthma or heart disease increases the risk of flu complications.
How will the flu vaccine help my baby?
Babies can not get the flu vaccine until they are 6 months old. When you receive the flu vaccine during pregnancy, the protective antibodies made in your body due to this vaccine are transferred to your baby until he/she receives their flu vaccine.
During pregnancy, flu (influenza) can impose serious health implications for both the mother and the child. Due to pregnancy, the risk of developing complications like pneumonia are very high, which can pose a problem during childbirth. Miscarriage, low birth weight, premature birth are some of the major issues, which might develop if the mother has suffered from flu during her pregnancy. Although flu vaccination during pregnancy has certain risks, it has been observed that in most cases the benefits of inactivated influenza vaccine outweigh the risks. However, Live attenuated influenza vaccine is not recommended at all during pregnancy.
Recommendations across the world suggest that prevention of influenza by administration of inactivated influenza vaccine is the best intervention in pregnancy. The vaccine for Flu should be administered before the onset of flu season. RANZCOG, NHS UK, RCOG, FOGSI recommends inactivated flu vaccine for all the pregnant women unless there are any contraindications.
Taking the inactivated influenza vaccine can be beneficial in multiple ways:
1. Prevents maternal complications: During pregnancy, the heart and lungs go through extra stress. Pregnancy can also severely impact your immune system. Opting for an inactivated flu vaccine can decrease significantly, the chance of falling severely ill due to flu.
2. Prevents pregnancy problems due to flu: Getting infected by flu during pregnancy can increase the chance of miscarriage during childbirth. Administering inactivated flu shots can prevent miscarriage as well as premature birth and low birth weight.
3. Protects the baby after birth: Infants have a huge risk of getting infected with flu after birth. But as vaccines cannot be administered to them until they are 6 months old, it is the best recourse to opt for inactivated flu shots during pregnancy as the antibodies pass onto the child from the mother via placenta. The child can hence be protected from such diseases.
Often, one fear about the vaccine, is the development of Gullain Barre syndrome. This is very rare and the risk of GBS are higher following an influenza-like illness. Also, if the patient is allergic to eggs they are advised to consult a physician. Flu vaccines have traces of egg protein in it. Certain precautions are taken after studying the patient's medical history. The doctor may keep the patient under observation. Or in certain instances, the physician might suggest alternative flu vaccine, which do not contain egg protein. Physicians decide it after studying any prior allergic reaction.
As per the WHO SAGE position paper, from 1990 to 2009 the vaccine adverse event reporting system database in USA reported only 20 serious adverse events following administration of trivalent influenza vaccine to an estimated 11.8 million pregnant women.
Influenza is more commonly known as the flu. It is an infection that affects the respiratory system and is caused by the influenza virus. This injection is recommended for kids who are under the age of 6 months. It ensures that the baby is safeguarded from the virus during an influenza outbreak. Since the nature of virus changes year on year, the immunity doesn’t last for more than 1 year. This vaccination is ideally taken during the month of October and November. The effect of the vaccination typically lasts for 6-8 months.
Ideally, kids who have never had a flu vaccination should take 2 vaccinations within 4 weeks. Kids who have received a shot of flu should undertake this vaccination once in a year. This arrangement is ideal for up to 9 years of age. Flu shot is extremely important for a kid due to the following reasons:
Flu shot should not be taken if:
1. A baby is under the age of 6 months.
2. The baby has thimerosal allergy.
Is flu shot safe?
The flu shot is considered to be very safe. It does not result in the flu. Few side effects include:
a. Soreness of the place where the needle is injected. This doesn’t last for more than a couple of day.
b. Body ache and mild fever for the first couple of days after the vaccination are done.
c. There is little to no pain in the place where the injection is injected by the doctor.
What is nasal flu vaccine?
This is an influenza dose that is not injected into the body, but given in the form of the nasal spray. Healthy kids above the age of 2 years are fit to get this injection. For those kids who have a history of chronic illness should check with their doctor to go ahead with the nasal spray. Each dose is given in each nostril. Like the influenza vaccine, nasal flu vaccine should be undertaken once for those who have already taken this dose once. Kids who have not undergone this vaccination are eligible for 2 dosages each 4 weeks apart from each other.