From minor ailments like the common cold to devastating illnesses like COVID-19, communicable diseases vary in severity, although all are known to put a strain on people’s lives. Described as ailments that are transmitted from person to person, via vehicles like contaminated surfaces or objects, or through vectors like animals and insects, infectious diseases can impact communities’ and individuals’ productivity and finances in more ways than one. With the social and economic implications of getting sick—and the speed at which such diseases could spread—it’s imperative for people to be proactive in order to prevent these illnesses from having a significant impact on their lives.
For the most part, communicable diseases are preventable enough to eliminate the risk of treatment and hospitalisation. From avoiding close contact with sick individuals to keeping track of your vaccinations, there are many ways to keep infectious diseases from spreading and causing unwanted effects on yourself and others. To help you stay protected against these transmissible ailments, here are some best practices you need to follow.
Keep Up to Date with Your Vaccinations
Vaccines provide an added layer of protection against highly transmissible diseases such as influenza, measles, and polio. Typically, immunisations are offered to people of all ages and must be periodically administered to remain effective against ever-evolving viruses. All in all, vaccinations are a great way to have an extra line of defence against pathogenic agents that might enter your body through the air, through contaminated surfaces or objects, or through disease-carrying vectors like mosquitoes, ticks, and bigger animals.
There is enough reason to trust medical interventions like vaccines, too. Vaccine production requires rigorous research and development (R&D), most of which is undertaken by biotechnologists in a BSL 2 lab or higher, which are designed to handle, store, and isolate hazardous and contagious agents.
Practise Food Safety
You get your nourishment from the food you eat, but you can also get sick when food is not handled properly. Contaminated food, including raw and undercooked ingredients, could potentially contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli. More than that, you could risk transmitting viruses and parasites when you prepare food while you’re sick. With this in mind, you must always wash your hands before and after preparing meals, clean your ingredients properly, cook food at the right temperature, and keep the food prep area clean. When dining out, always make sure that the food establishment meets the bare minimum of health and safety requirements to prevent yourself from consuming dirty food and water.
Eat Immunity-Boosting Foods
Speaking of food, it would also serve you well to include immunity boosters in your diet. Generally, boosting your intake of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients is a great way to keep your body strong, healthy, and resilient against disease.
Foods rich in Vitamin C such as citrus fruits, kale, and red pepper are known for boosting the production of white blood cells that aid in fighting infection. You may also want to consider foods rich in vitamins D and E (nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, and greens), which regulate and support your body’s immune response. Similarly, beta-carotene-rich foods, such as root vegetables, help boost your antibody response to toxins and pathogens. Overall, the importance of eating well should not be understated, as it’s one of the fundamentals of living healthily.
Wash Your Hands Properly
Your hands pick up millions of germs by just touching high-contact communal surfaces, including ATM screens and keypads, public transportation handrails, and doorknobs. This is why it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly after touching such communal surfaces. A good rule of thumb would be to wash your hands for around 20 seconds with soap and water. It’s incredibly important to do this before eating or handling food and when taking care of those with vulnerable immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals.
Ideally, you need to wash your hands after handling hazardous waste, touching animals, using the toilet, doing outdoor activities, and coming into contact with sick people. It’s also best to wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose to avoid spreading germs. It might help to bring a hand sanitiser or rubbing alcohol with you when going out, especially if comfort rooms or handwashing stations are few and far between in the location where you intend to go.
Don’t Share Personal Items
You may have heard of the saying “sharing is caring,” but that’s not the case when it comes to personal items. To prevent the transmission of infectious diseases, avoid sharing items that regularly come into contact with saliva, including toothbrushes, lipsticks, utensils, and drinking glasses. It’s also best to avoid sharing items that you use on your body, such as nail clippers and razors, and you must absolutely never share items that come directly into contact with blood, such as needles and pricking instruments. When going out, make sure to bring your own handkerchief or face mask for when you’re risking exposure to crowds and sick individuals. Beyond fussiness, these practices are necessary for not being exposed to pathogenic agents.
Adhere to Safe Sexual Practices
Infectious diseases can also come in the form of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If you’re sexually active, it’s best to be responsible and adhere to safe practices meant to protect your overall health. To stay sexually responsible, you and a partner should use preventive measures like condoms and consider getting tested for infections like HIV. If possible, consult a doctor so that you have a clear idea of the practices that contribute to better sexual health.
Prevention Really Is Better Than Cure
Communicable diseases come in many forms, but the bottom line is that they require a high level of awareness and responsibility. You may want to keep in touch with your doctor to get professional guidance on standard and additional measures, especially if you have specific health conditions or lifestyle choices that warrant extra precautions.
At the end of the day, these practices should remind you that you’re not entirely powerless against infectious diseases. With the right knowledge and a proactive mindset focused on personal responsibility, it is possible to keep transmittable diseases at bay and protect your health down the road.