December 13th ~ Stave off those sniffles

On the thirteenth day of December my true love gave to me,

 a handsoap scented with sweet pea.

Speaking of Christmas music …tomorrow’s post should have a recap of recent events. Last night was the school’s band concert at Brandon’s school (he plays saxophone), and tonight is Jadon’s school Christmas Program.

There is always so much going on this time of year. Hence, the 25 Days of Christmas. I hope these posts have been fun and informative, and have helped you in some small way enjoy the season in good health, good spirits, and good fun. I definitely did NOT realize what a big task I had given myself. I don’t know that I’ll have anything to write about post-Christmas!

But back to today’s post. We’re talking about germs (eww) and trying our best to stay healthy during this season of colds and sniffles and whatnot. You’d be surprised how little you need to spend ($2 on average) to keep your family cold-free. How, you ask? Hand sanitizer. Wow. Super easy.

Hand washing is great, don’t get me wrong. In fact, I’m an avid hand-washer to the point that I keep OLAY in business by constantly combating my dry skin with their wonderful sparkly and sweet-smelling lotion. I wash my hands more times a day than I keep count. I wash after I use the toilet (if you don’t, please start), before I empty the dishwasher and again after (if I’m going straight into food-prep mode), and always before and after handling food. If I’m out in public I’ve just increased my need for clean hands by about a hundred-fold. I’m not a neurotic, truly. I just like things clean. 

BUT studies show that hand washing only kills about 31% of the germs on your hands. I don’t know how accurate that statistic is, if that includes anti-bacterial soap or not, but I do know that most people don’t know how to wash their hands effectively.  If you’re a nurse you probably know this, but to everyone else, wanna hear something so obvious that you probably have never considered it before? You know how you lather up the soap and then rinse? Well, if you’re not rinsing in a downward motion so that the germs run off your hands and down the drain, then you might be just reapplying the germs, along with soap residue, back onto your hands.

The key is to use a hand sanitizer in addition to washing your hands, which supposedly adds 80% protection against germs, which I guess is pretty good considering most sanitizers claim to kill 99% of the germs on your hands. I won’t even go into the chemical aspect of these sanitizers, though. We’re all aware. So I think it’s safe to say that doing both is the best precaution, and just my opinion, but to wash with soap and water after using the sanitizer.

This is definitely not to say that a sanitizer should be used in lieu of washing. Several years ago I worked as a T.A. in an elementary school. It was a 2nd grade class and the head teacher was very effective in her time- management. The kids had to be allowed to go to the bathroom several times during the day, so it was worked into the daily schedule that they got a bathroom break in the morning between subjects, after lunch while walking back to class, and again in the afternoon either going to or returning from recess (I can’t remember which). She always carried a bottle of hand sanitizer with her and instructed me to do the same. I assumed it was to give each kid a dollop as they were coming out of the bathroom. It was…but none of them came out with washed hands. Ever. I asked her why they weren’t washing their hands and she said she’d rather use the sanitizer because it was faster. Her argument was that the kids tend to waste time, play at the sinks, and get too wet when washing their hands.

If you’re reacting anything at all like I did when she told me this, I wouldn’t be surprised. In fact, you might be considering double-checking with your own kids’ schools to see how they are handling hand-washing.

So basically she taught these kids that cleanliness wasn’t important for selfish reasons. Yeah. I’ll just say this again: hand sanitzers do not substitute for hand washing. And BTW, the principal put an end to that, thank God.

Also, make sure your hands are thoroughly dried. Bacteria spreads more readily from damp hands.

But what if you’re already feeling a bit crummy? If you’ve got a cold coming on take Alkaseltzer immediately, or Zicam. But if it’s already set in then take a handful of Vitamin C with lots of water, and then one 1000 mg tablet every hour on the hour until you start to feel better. That’s how my mom taught me to do it and it always works. You can’t have too much vitamin C. Your body will pee out what it doesn’t need or use, so don’t be afraid of it.

But if you have a bad cold the night of your kid’s Christmas concert and you absolutely can’t miss it, try this: take an ibuprofen or acetaminophen right away. They can knock down a fever and ease a headache and a sore throat. Then use a nasal spray or decongestant pill that has pseudoephedrine. Using the two together (acetaminophen and pseudoephedrine) gives more relief than just one of either remedy used alone. (

Don’t forget also that proper sleep will help safe guard against colds, as well as a routine dose of herbal tea. If you don’t take a daily multi-vitamin it’s never too late to start. So don’t suffer if you don’t have to. Winter colds will happen but you can still enjoy some of those important events. Don’t sweat the small stuff and remember the real reason for the season.

“I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”

~ Jeremiah 33:6  NIV


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