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Handwashing for Health More Common: Survey
In the midst of this year’s flu season, Americans are taking preventative measures into their own hands. Three out of four say they step up their hand hygiene in response to virus outbreaks. Specifically, they wash more frequently, more thoroughly or longer, according to a national survey conducted by Bradley Corporation. That’s good news because the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says hand washing is the easiest and most effective defense against illness.
The survey also found that half of adults make a conscious effort to drink more fluids to reduce their likelihood of catching a cold or the flu. A good number rely on vitamin C or a zinc supplement as a preventative measure while others avoid touching their face, mouth and nose. Unfortunately, in today’s 24/7 environment, just one out of three get more sleep to try and fend off illness.
The findings are part of the 10th annual Healthy Hand Washing Survey that queried 1,264 adults throughout the United States Jan. 3-8, 2019.
When Americans are feeling ill, nearly two out of three use over-the-counter medicine as their go-to remedy. A second group visits the doctor and a small number call their mom or conduct a virtual or online doctor visit. Approximately one out of five say they actually prefer to ignore their illness and hope it goes away. It may not be a surprise but men were significantly more likely to ignore their illness than women.
The survey revealed that sick Americans are considerate. More than half stay home to avoid passing their germs onto others. They also wash their hands more frequently, use antibacterial soap whenever possible, sneeze into the crook of their elbow and avoid shaking hands.
In terms of a preferred hand cleaning method, nearly two out of three Americans believe their hands are less germy after washing with soap and water than after using hand sanitizer – a fact the CDC supports unequivocally.
According to the CDC, while hand sanitizer can be beneficial, washing with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs. And, the CDC says it’s important to know that hand sanitizers are not effective when hands are visibly dirty.
“The proper way to wash is to use clean water and soap. Rub your hands together and scrub front, back and in between your fingers for at least 20 seconds. Finally, rinse and dry,” says medical microbiologist Michael P. McCann, Ph.D., professor of biology, Saint Joseph's University. “Thorough hand washing with a scrubbing motion is highly effective in removing bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing microorganisms from the surface of the skin.”