Internal Medicine specialists like Dr. Kevin Cleary of Lancaster Medical in Depew, New York, take flu prevention seriously. Many of Dr. Kevin Cleary’s patients receive the flu shot, and he provides prescriptions for antiviral medications for high-risk people who receive a flu diagnosis in the early stages of the disease. However, Dr. Cleary and his fellow practitioners know that a simple habit actually provides even more protection than the vaccination.
Researchers have long found that hand washing is one of the most successful ways to prevent colds, flus, and gastrointestinal illnesses. Public restrooms are especially dangerous for people seeking to avoid disease. After using a public restroom, people should wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, paying careful attention to the areas around their fingernails. They should also wash their hands thoroughly before eating. However, 15% of Americans don’t wash their hands after using the restroom, and 23% don’t wash their hands before eating. Getting more people to wash their hands effectively would reduce the spread of many winter diseases. Experts warn that while alcohol-based hand sanitizers do protect against colds and flu, they will not protect against certain gastrointestinal viruses like the norovirus. For complete protection, only soap and water will do.