Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Do You Have A Germ Phobia?

Photo: doctorramey.com
Recently, a reader asked The New York Times a question: "What diseases can you get from a water fountain?" The article says, it's very safe to drink from a pubic water fountain. Communities filter and treat their water, and even if a child puts his month on the spout, it gets rinsed often, so you don't have to worry about contamination.

Personally, it doesn't bother me to either consume tap water, or drink from a water fountain. Moreover, I usually wash dishes by hand; hot water; and dish soap, forgoing a dishwasher. I think soap and water kills harmful germs, plus we need exposure to everyday germs to build up our immunities. (Read a scientific study to support the notion here.) While I'm not going to get crazy and eat food that has fallen on a sidewalk, if a friend asks me to taste his drink, or food off his plate, I'm fine with it.
Mostly we have to worry about germs anywhere hands touch common surfaces, like the handle to turn on a water fountain, as well as, doorknobs, computer keyboards or subway poles. That's where dozens of bacteria or viruses can be transmitted by feces, mucus or coughs. Oh! It sounds like some people could do a better job of washing their hands. (Tip: Mentally song Happy Birthday twice to lather and wash long enough.)

After surviving a winter with several wicked head colds, I have tried not to touch public doorknobs, railings, computer keyboards and touch screens. With the latter, I'm thinking of you, Apple Stores, with your cool laptops, iPads and iPhones. OK, I still pop in to play with all the latest toys, but I avoid touching my face until I wash or sanitize my hands. I started carrying a slender hand sanitizer in my purse after that unfortunate season of viruses.

I don't think of myself as overly germ phobic, but I have to know where something has been. For that reason, I don't sample the eye makeup or lipsticks at Sephora, except on the back of my hand. Many religious people believe God will protect them when drinking wine from a Communion cup during a Mass. I am not one of those people. I will not drink consecrated wine from a communal chalice. The Holy Spirit has nothing to do with it. Too many lips, I don't know!
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When I was a child, my mamma had a phobia against letting me walk around barefoot. If I removed my shoes in the house, she immediately got my slippers (or nagged me to get them). She would've had a heart attack had I stepped barefoot outdoors. I didn't mess with her on this issue; all I knew was my mom did not like barefooted children. :) Everybody has a quirk, I suppose.

Do you have a germ phobia?

Here's a lesson from history that may cure you of it, an account explaining why polio became a serious epidemic in the 20th century. In short, outhouses and open sewers gave prior generations a chance to develop immunities against polio that the more sanitary flush toilets removed. Scientists also theorize that children have more serious allergies today because dish wasters kill germs more effectively than did hand washing dishes in earlier times. Wow! Apparently, there are benefits to living with some everyday germs.


You may also enjoy:
The Health Benefits Of Tea
Sleep Is Crucial To Good Health
Good Housekeeping's Food Safety Tips
Health Care Reform, A Doctor Weighs In

2 comments:

  1. I carry around a little bottle of anti-germ stuff, mainly an alcohol gel. Also sometimes at events, such things are included in swag bags or at booths. After using public transportation, I usually will rub some of the gel around my hands. More than one commuter that I know actually wear gloves- to guard against germs from holding on to railings going up or down from/to subway or railroad stations.

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    1. Not bad ideas. I'm always glad to wear gloves in winter to open doors, etc., but I'd feel like a germ phobic doing so in a warm climate. Like you, I've gotten into the habit of using alcohol based hand sanitizers. Anything to cut down on winter colds!

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