How Can Wearing Gloves Get You Sick?

We wear gloves during this time of year to protect ourselves from the cold, wintery elements. These accessories are meant to serve as a layer of defense, but could they actually contribute to getting us sick during cold and flu season?

While outer garments like gloves serve a very important function in keeping us warm, they can also be the potential transmitter of harmful germs if they are not washed regularly. When you think about it, we use our gloves when we open doors, hold escalator rails, and ride the train, all of which are breeding grounds for viruses. After touching these things, we might use our glove covered hands to scratch our noses and cover our mouths. In a pinch, we might even use our gloves to wipe our nose when a tissue isn’t available.  These actions can take place every day for the duration of the winter, but ask yourself when was the last time you washed your gloves? The fact is gloves pick up everything bare hands do and very few people wash their gloves frequently enough.

It is estimated that certain viruses such as the flu can live on your gloves for two to three days, while stomach viruses, such as the rotavirus and norovirus can remain active for up to a month.

To avoid getting sick from your gloves, follow these simple tips:

  • Wash them at least once a week. Cotton products are easiest to clean by using a washing machine while wool products need to be hand washed. Leather gloves will require dry cleaning
  • Never use your mouth to pull off your gloves. The best way to remove your gloves is from back to front, similar to healthcare workers
  • If you are wearing your gloves in snowy or wet conditions, allow them to air dry rather than shoving them into your pockets or into the sleeve of your coat.
  • Avoid touching ATMs, elevator buttons, railings, or shopping carts with a gloved hand. It is much easier to sanitize your bare hand than it is to clean your gloves
  • Always wash your hands after removing your gloves to avoid contamination

Following these steps can reduce the chances of getting sick this winter.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Avoid the “Double Dip” at Your Next Party

You may have seen the infamous episode of the popular sitcom, Seinfeld where George “double dips” at a social gathering – basically scooping dip onto his chip, taking a bite, and then placing that same chip back in the bowl for another serving. Someone sees this and tells him that double dipping is like “putting your whole mouth in the dip”. The scene is often referenced and has become part of pop-culture lure, but is there any truth to this notion? Are “double dippers” really spreading germs by committing this offense?

ThinkstockPhotos-99700139The topic was so intriguing, that it prompted students at Clemson University to conduct an investigation about the potential dangers of double dipping. By comparing how much bacteria is transferred into dip from unbitten versus bitten crackers, the students were able to draw some interesting conclusions. First the dip was tested after the unbitten cracker was used. The results found no detectable bacteria present in the dip after that cracker was used. Next the dip was tested after the bitten, or double dipped cracker was submerged. Here the results were much different. Once subjected to double dipping, as many as 1,000 bacteria were detected in the dip.

What does this mean? There are thousands of different types of bacteria living in our mouths, and some of them transmit viruses like the flu. While Seinfeld made the term double dipping popular, perhaps the most infamous double dipper of all time was cook 19th century cook Mary Mallon, better known as Typhoid Mary. She was thought to have spread typhoid to many New England families as she tasted the food she was preparing for them.

Keeping that in mind, there is still a concern over transmitting bacteria via the double dip. So the next time you are at a party and you notice someone double dipping, you might want to avoid partaking in the dip and chips.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How long can viruses live outside the body?

517019433 virus sneezeWe have all seen the news reports about the tiny, disgusting germs that are on the surfaces we all encounter every day in our homes and places of work. With cold and flu season upon us, preparations are now being made by many to prevent transmission of viruses, but before you go through drastic measures, there are some important facts about viruses that you should know, such as how long do viruses live on our phones, doorknobs, and keyboards?

There is not one answer to this question. The life of a virus (technically, viruses are not alive) depends on what type of virus it is, the conditions of the environment it is in, as well as the type of surface it is on.

Cold viruses have been shown to survive on indoor surfaces for approximately seven days. Flu viruses, however, are active for only 24 hours.

All viruses have the potential to live on hard surfaces, such as metal and plastic, longer than on fabrics and other soft surfaces. In fact, infectious flu viruses can survive on tissues for only 15 minutes. Viruses tend to also live longer in areas with lower temperatures, low humidity, and low sunlight.

How long these germs are actually capable of infecting you is a different story. In general, viruses are not likely to be a danger on surfaces very long. In fact, while cold viruses can live for several days, their ability to cause infection decreases after approximately 24 hours, and after only five minutes, the amount of flu virus on hands fall to low levels, making transmission much less likely.

518780419 hand washThe best defense against active viruses remains thorough hand washing. In addition, wiping down surfaces with anti-bacterial or alcohol-based cleaners will help kill viruses and decrease the chances of transmission.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

POLL QUESTION: Can you catch germs from a toilet seat?

Answer:  Highly unlikely.

According to WebMD, many disease-causing organisms can survive for only a short time on the surface of the seat. For an infection to occur, the germs would have to be transferred from the toilet seat to your urethral or genital tract, or through a cut or sore on the buttocks or thighs, which is possible but very unlikely. If you’re still suspicious, use a paper toilet seat cover or cover the seating area with toilet paper before sitting down.

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All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.