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People who rarely get sick might seem like superhumans, but in reality they're most likely practicing immune-boosting habits that help avoid whatever bug is going around at the time. So if you want to be like the people who can stockpile their sick days and never spend time in bed recovering from the flu, read on to learn how Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies never gets sick and her tips on how to help prevent illness—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Doctor's Insights on Not Getting Sick
Dr. Mitchell shares, "As a physician, who has seen tens of thousands of patients and was exposed to various viruses and bacteria, I prided myself on hardly getting sick. Plus, this time, when mask-wearing wasn't as common as it is today, and coughed and sneezed on occurred more frequently than I remember. However, my "luck" ran out after I had children. Every time my kids got sick; I inevitably caught whatever they had. No matter how often I washed my hands or tried to avoid them when they were ill, I always seemed to get sick myself, though thankfully, it was very mild and short-lived.
So, you might be wondering, why is it that some people hardly get sick? You've probably noticed that some people seem never to get sick. No matter what is going around, they always seem to stay healthy. So, what's their secret? While there are several factors that contribute to good health, there are a few things that those who rarely get sick have in common. First, they tend to have robust immune systems. This means that they are better able to fight off infections and disease. They also tend to eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercises, which help boost the immune system. Finally, they take steps to avoid exposure to illness-causing germs, such as washing their hands regularly and staying away from sick people. Following these simple tips can also enjoy good health and avoid getting sick. I will share my own experiences, plus reasons backed by science."
Wash Hands Frequently
Dr. Mitchell says, "This might seem obvious, but it was sometimes frightening to see how often this wasn't done. Sometimes in medicine, there is show and tell, and the patient shows and touches the area of concern- more often than not with their bare hands. I would politely tell them, 'Here is the soap and paper towel for you to wash your hands afterward.' I have witnessed people touch bodily fluids and then touch door handles, shake people's hands, and the list goes on.
Practicing hand hygiene is a simple yet effective way to prevent infections. Cleaning your hands can prevent the spread of germs, including those resistant to antibiotics and becoming difficult, if not impossible, to treat. According to the CDC, on average, healthcare providers clean their hands less than half the time they should. On any given day, about one in 31 hospital patients has at least one infection contracted. Many of these infections are preventable through proper hand hygiene.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after contact with patients and after contact with body fluids or surfaces that may be contaminated with bacteria or viruses. Hand hygiene is essential in preventing the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile (C. diff). In addition to causing severe illness, these infections can lead to prolonged hospital stays, increased healthcare costs, and even death. Improving hand hygiene among healthcare providers is essential to protecting patients and preventing the spread of infection.
When you wash your hands, you remove dirt, bacteria, and viruses that can cause illness. Washing your hands also helps remove any chemicals you may have come into contact during the day. For example, the CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. If you are sick, it is essential to wash your hands often to prevent the spread of germs to others. By washing your hands regularly, you can help to keep yourself and others healthy."
Wipe Down Surfaces Your Near the Most
"I had a strict routine of wiping down and sanitizing exam beds after use, including the edges,' Dr. Mitchell says. Too often, I have seen situations where just changing the paper on the bed was the standard between patients. I was disgusted because, quite frankly, I know that some exams required patients to disrobe, and there was often the real possibility of bodily fluids being transferred onto the bed. Bare skin touched the entire bed, not just the thin, narrow strip of the exam paper. The thought of moving potential bodily fluids from the bed to my clothes was a no-no for me. Perhaps this was part of why being an Obstetrician or a Urologist did not appeal to me.
Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are a significant source of morbidity and mortality worldwide. To reduce the spread of infection, it is essential to wipe down high-touch surfaces regularly. High-touch surfaces are any surfaces that are frequently touched by people and can include beds, door handles, light switches, and taps. These surfaces can harbor dangerous pathogens that can cause serious infections, particularly in vulnerable patients. Regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces can reduce the risk of transmission and help keep our patients safe."
Sanitize Door Handles
Dr. Mitchell reveals, "I do not touch the doors of public toilets. I use my foot to open it, or I grab a paper towel, and I use that to open it. Then, upon leaving the bathroom, I sanitize my hands as soon as possible. Most of us know the importance of washing our hands regularly, but there are other high-touch areas in our homes and workplaces that we often neglect to clean. Door handles, light switches, keyboards, and remote controls are just a few places where germs can quickly accumulate. And since we touch these surfaces so frequently, they can be a significant source of illness-causing bacteria. Regular cleaning is the best way to reduce the risk of getting sick from these high-touch areas. A simple soap and water solution is usually all needed to disinfect most surfaces. For more stubborn dirt and grime, you may need a more potent cleanser or a disinfectant wipe. Whatever method you choose, clean high-touch areas regularly to minimize the spread of illness-causing bacteria."
Maintain High Standards for Those Around Me
"I kept clear signage, and I regularly communicated the importance of handwashing," Dr. Mitchell states. "For example, if we were having a team lunch and we were sharing food, my employees and coworkers knew that you must wash your hands before eating. I was known to look if these rules were violated. This led me to avoid buffets over time, as I knew the servicing cutlery was laden with bacteria."
Know the Standards of People You Work With or Around
Dr. Mitchell explains. "Many people don't realize how easy it is to spread disease. When you're sick, your body contains viruses or bacteria that can make other people sick. And when you're healthy, you can still pick up these germs from the people around you. So that's why it's essential to be careful about the people you associate with, work with, and eat with. If someone is sick, try to avoid them. If you can't avoid them, wash your hands often and avoid touching your face. When you're at work, take measures to prevent getting sick, such as wiping your desk and using hand sanitizer. And when you're eating, be careful not to share utensils or food with others. Taking these simple precautions can help avoid getting sick from the people around you.
In my book, you don't get three strikes for hygiene. I would not eat from potlucks if I had the slightest suspicion that others' hygiene standards were not up to par. Too many people do not wash their hands while preparing food."
Be Mindful of Animals and Their Hygiene
"Too many loving pet owners touch their pets and then touch the food, or their pets go on their kitchen counter," Dr. Mitchell says. "This is a resounding no for me. I am a dog lover and have owned a dog, but I have my boundaries regarding hygiene. Animals lick their genitals and come in contact with their bodily fluids and that of others, more than I care to know. This is concerning, as there are many ways in which pets can transmit diseases to humans. For example, pets can carry bacteria on their fur that can cause gastrointestinal illness if transferred to humans. They can also transmit parasites to people, such as roundworms and tapeworms.
Additionally, some pets may be infected with zoonotic viruses, such as rabies or influenza, which can be passed on to humans. As a result, it is essential for pet owners to practice good hygiene and always wash their hands after coming into contact with animals. Failure to do so could put themselves and others at risk for serious illness.
The fact is, it's not just our pets that lick themselves. I've seen too many people lick their fingers, then proceed to touch shared items. This is a quick path to getting sick from someone else. So do yourself a favor and take a moment to look at what is happening during shared meals- you might be in for a shock!"
Live a Healthy Lifestyle
Dr. Mitchell confesses, "I am not perfect, but some habits are a clear no-no for me. One is smoking, and the other is living a sedentary lifestyle. I love food, and I know I can have a sweet tooth sometimes, but overall, I eat a balanced, colorful diet.
A healthy lifestyle is essential not only for avoiding sickness but also for boosting immunity. When the body is functioning optimally, it is better able to fight off infection and illness. Nutrition plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants support the body's natural defenses. Furthermore, adequate sleep and exercise are critical for maintaining a robust immune system. When the body is well-rested and has plenty of energy, it is better equipped to fight off sickness. In short, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and staying active are all essential factors in boosting immunity and avoiding disease."
Dr. Mitchell says this "doesn't constitute medical advice and by no means are these answers meant to be comprehensive. Rather, it's to encourage discussions about health choices."