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Respiratory hygiene, also known as respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene are two of the effective ways to prevent spreading an infection to others around you and to protect yourself from infections that others may have. Given the current COVID-19 outbreak, it is important to maintain hand and respiratory hygiene.
Germs such as bacteria and virus are spread by air, animals, food, bodily fluids, soil and surfaces, which are mostly spread by hands. Washing your hands frequently will reduce the risk of contracting illnesses or diseases like cold, seasonal flu and gastrointestinal infections.
Here's a guideline on how to maintain hand and respiratory hygiene.
How To Maintain Hand Hygiene
Hand hygiene is an effective practice to prevent the transmission of germs. Hand hygiene is maintained by using soap and water or hand sanitiser to decrease the number of potential infectious organisms on your hands and nails.
When the number of germs on your hands is reduced, there are fewer chances for those germs to spread and potentially cause illness to you and others.
One must maintain hand hygiene in certain situations which include the following:
- Immediately after using the bathroom
- Before and after you care for a sick person
- Before and after setting up medications
- Before and after preparing food
- Immediately after handling foods such as raw meat, poultry or fish
- After your hands are greasy or dirty
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing hands in the following way:
- Rinse your hands under running water.
- Use soap and rub in between your hands to form a lather.
- Lather between all your fingers, thumbs, wrists, finger tips and back of hands.
- Thoroughly rinse your hands and then dry them using a paper towel.
Note: Drying the hands with a paper towel lowers the risk of germs on your hands than having wet hands. To avoid contaminating your hands after washing use your elbow to open the door knob.
Using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser is just as effective as soap and water except in the following situations:
- After using the bathroom
- When your hands are dirty or greasy
- If you are caring for a sick person
According to the Oregon Department of Human Services, a hand sanitiser should be used in the following way:
- Apply a proper amount of sanitiser on your hand.
- Rub between your fingers, palms, wrists, back of your hands and finger tips.
- Continue rubbing the hand sanitiser until your hands feel dry.
- Do not rinse or dry your hands with a towel.
How To Maintain Respiratory Hygiene
Respiratory hygiene, also called respiratory etiquette is another effective practice to prevent the spread of germs through the air.
Here are few ways to practice respiratory hygiene:
Wear a mask
Wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing. As per the CDC, either procedure masks with ear loops or surgical masks with ties may be used to contain respiratory secretions.
Also, using a bent elbow to cover your mouth while coughing and sneezing is another way to prevent the spread of germs.
Avoid using a handkerchief as it becomes a breeding ground for viruses.
Use a tissue while you cough or sneeze and then dispose of it properly. And then wash your hands with soap and water or use a sanitiser. This will prevent the virus to spread to another person.
Tips To Consider While Maintaining Respiratory Hygiene
- Maintain at least six feet distance from people.
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes after you touch surfaces.
- Wash your hands at regular intervals throughout the day.
You can decrease the chances of getting infections if you routinely practice hand and respiratory hygiene, be it at your work, home or in public places. Always carry a hand sanitiser with you whenever you are stepping out of your house.