You all have probably heard about the various studies that have come out in recent years which show the value of doctors, nurses and other people who work in hospitals washing their hands before and after seeing patients. The evidence is clear. Between the assortment of bugs that can dwell around a hospital, the number of open wounds and patients who have weakened immune systems, it only makes sense that hospital workers would be diligent about this. But the practice has worked its way into schools and homes as well. Waterless hand cleaner and anti-bacterial soaps are now common place.
But let me pose a few questions. Unless you wash you hands like a surgeon several times every day, how much are you really lessening your exposure to bugs? If you are exposed to only 2 billion germs and viruses instead of 200 billion, what have you gained? Even when these hand cleaners are effective, are we not working to create germs that will be resistance to these cleaners and soaps?
If you get exposed to a germ or virus that your body hasn’t seen before, you will be infected. Now the issue becomes how well you body is capable of fending off the attack. How strong is your immune system? If you get regular, quality sleep, it helps. If you eat a good diet and get regular exercise (Do I sound like your mother?), it will likely help to keep your immune system in good enough shape that when ever an unfamiliar bug comes along, your body can quickly fight it off. You may not even have any noticeable symptoms. Occasionally, something is going to come along that is totally unfamiliar to your body. You will get sick … and feel it.
Lastly, maybe you should eat a little dirt. I don’t mean this literally, but might it be a good idea to not work so very hard to avoid exposure? Think of a kindergarten teacher. They hardly ever get sick! They would have to wear a decontamination suit to avoid constant exposure from all those little runny noses.
There has been remarkably little research done on this business. One piece that I did hear about was concerning how different populations of children have differing rates of asthma. It turned out that Amish children growing up on dairy farms had the lowest rate. Interesting? There also was a research experiment where cancer patients were exposed to common cold viruses during their therapy, with the intent of spurring on their immune systems. I never heard if it had good results or not.
Just for the record, I do regularly wash my hands. But I do it with the intent of getting most of the dirt off, not removing all the germs.
Mud pie … Bon appetite!
Just a thought … DonC