Hand sanitizers: Do they help stop all germs?

Published: Monday, February 11, 2013 @ 12:56 PM
Updated: Monday, February 11, 2013 @ 12:56 PM

With winter cold and flu season in full swing -- and a new strain of norovirus circulating -- everyone's trying to dodge the bugs. Norovirus causes intestinal illness, and it's often the root of outbreaks at schools and in nursing homes.

The question is: How best to avoid infection? Thorough hand washing is typically recommended. But use of hand sanitizers is promoted, too.

However, a recent study found that staff in long-term care facilities who relied too much on hand sanitizers over hand washing actually reported more outbreaks of norovirus-related illness.

WebMD turned to the experts for perspective on what to do now.

What is the active ingredient in hand sanitizers?

Hand sanitizers have a form of alcohol, such as ethyl alcohol, as an active ingredient. It works as an antiseptic.

Other ingredients may include water, fragrance, and glycerin.

Which bugs can hand sanitizers prevent?

''Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are clearly a very useful and important method to prevent most bacterial and viral infections, with rare exceptions," says Aaron E. Glatt, MD, executive vice president of Mercy Medical Center, Rockville Centre, Long Island, N.Y. He is a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. 

Viruses cause colds and flu.

Hand sanitizers won't work, Glatt says, against the infection caused by C. difficile, a bacterium that can lead to life-threatening inflammation in the colon

What about the study finding more norovirus outbreaks with use of hand sanitizers?

"This study does not change my routine recommendation that people should use a hand sanitizer," Glatt says. He sees them as especially useful when water is not available.

In the study, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, CDC researchers looked at the use of hand sanitizers by the staff in 91 long-term care facilities. In those where the staff were equally or more likely to use the hand sanitizers over soap and water for routine hand hygiene, the chance of an outbreak was nearly six times greater.

"It's one study,” says Glatt.

More research is needed, he and other experts say.

So, is hand washing better than hand sanitizers to prevent infection spread?

Both are important, say Glatt and Brian Sansoni, spokesman for the American Cleaning Institute.

"Soap and water are number one," says Sansoni. "Hand sanitizers are a very effective additional tool."

The sanitizers are meant to supplement, not replace, good old-fashioned soap and water washing, Sansoni says.

The CDC agrees. It says that for norovirus, washing hands is your best prevention, especially after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before eating and doing food prep. Sanitizers may help, but “they are not a substitute for washing with soap and water.”

They also can be used if soap and water aren’t available, the CDC says.

What is the best way to wash hands?

Proper hand washing involves ''20 to 30 seconds of vigorous scrubbing with soap and warm water,” Glatt says. “It's the physical rubbing that does a lot of the work. But the soap is important."

What is the best way to use hand sanitizers?

To use hand sanitizers properly, use one or two squirts or pumps, Sansoni says. Rub hands together briskly, front and back, between fingers, around and under the nails, until hands are dry.

If you have a sick child, what can help contain those germs?

Use normal household cleaning agents such as bleach to wipe down surfaces such as diaper-changing tables, Glatt says.

"Pay careful attention to infection control," he says. "Wash [hands] with soap and water before preparing food. If you are sick, don't prepare food.''

Those with more than one child should be careful to wash their hands between tending to the sick child, such as diaper changing, and tending to the well child, he says.

SOURCES: Blaney, DD. Am J Infect Control, May 2011.Aaron Glatt, MD, executive vice president, Mercy Medical Center, Rockville Center, Long Island, NY; spokesperson, Infectious Diseases Society of America.Brian Sansoni, spokesperson, American Cleaning Institute, Washington, D.C.Blaney, D. American  Journal of Infection Control, May, 2011.CDC: "Prevent the Spread of Norovirus."

© 2013 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Premier Health offering free heart screenings

Published: Friday, February 17, 2017 @ 11:27 AM

HUBER HEIGHTS — Premier Health continues offering free cardiovascular screenings during American Heart Month.

The screenings help identify the risk for heart disease.

Related: 4 ways to turn a heart attack into a life-improving experience

Premier Health’s screenings will include blood pressure and non-fasting fingerstick readings for total cholesterol, HDL (good cholesterol), and blood sugar.

Appointments are not required, but suggested. Walk-ins will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis, but participants with appointments will be given priority.

Related: Frostbite danger: Late treatment can lead to permanent damage

Screenings will be held at Good Samaritan Health Center, 6251 Good Samaritan Way, off Brandt Pike, Huber Heights, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Call CareFinders toll free at 1-866-608-3463 to schedule a screening appointment. For more information, call 1-877-274-4543 or visit www.premierhealth.com/heartmonth. CASEY LAUGHTER

Exercise of the Month: Bird-Dog

Published: Monday, February 06, 2017 @ 11:39 AM


            Exercise of the Month: Bird-Dog

Most people are aware of the importance of keeping the body strong with resistance training. The Bird-Dog is a multi-functional exercise, working both the upper and lower body at the same time, and improving posture and balance. It requires no equipment so is a great way to stay on track whether at home or traveling. When performing the Bird-Dog, it is important to engage the abdominal muscles and keep the torso rigid to help prevent the back from sagging or arching excessively.

Muscles worked include the glutes/hips, back, abs, shoulders, and legs.

EXECUTION:

Beginner: Begin on the hands and knees, fingers pointing forward. The hands should be directly underneath the shoulders, and the knees underneath the hips.

Slowly raise the left arm until it is parallel to the floor. Keep the arm straight. Next, slowly raise the right leg until it is parallel, or near parallel, to the floor. Tighten the glutes as you lift the leg and do your best to keep the hips level and both shoulders parallel to the floor. As the leg comes up and as the pose is held, work toward keeping your balance. Hold for several seconds or longer, depending on your ability to maintain the position. Slowly return to starting position and repeat with the right arm and left leg.

Intermediate: Instead of lifting the arm and leg separately, move them simultaneously in a slow controlled manner.

Advanced: Perform the exercise by lifting the same side arm and leg. This is much more challenging and is not recommended for those who haven’t mastered the beginner version, or who don’t already have a strong core.

You can also try using a stability ball when doing the Bird-Dog. Here you would place your hips on top of the ball before moving the arm/leg. If using the ball, the leg that remains in contact with the floor will not be bent.

TIPS:

The Bird-Dog is designed to test the strength of the body’s stabilizing muscles, so it is normal that you may initially find yourself unable to complete the exercise without losing balance. For this reason, it is important to move slowly. If still too difficult, try touching a sturdy surface with the fingertips and then extending the leg, or start by only lifting the arm, or the leg, not both.

This exercise can be especially helpful for those looking to improve posture and for conditioning the low back. Because it is a no impact, slow moving exercise it does not place as much stress on the spinal column as some other low back exercises. Although considered a safe form of strengthening, it is still not appropriate for everyone, so check with your doctor if in doubt.

You can perform this exercise every day, or every other day, depending on goals and ability. For beginners, start with one to two repetitions and gradually increase difficulty by upping reps or length of time each rep is held.

Stark numbers show heroin’s local grip

Published: Friday, January 13, 2017 @ 3:47 PM
Updated: Friday, January 13, 2017 @ 3:47 PM

Stark numbers show heroin’s local grip

An average of seven Montgomery County residents a day were treated for drug overdoses by emergency departments in 2016, and one person alone made eight trips to the ER. Eleven people were treated twice in the same day for overdoses.

The stark figures — amassed largely due to a devastating heroin epidemic — are found in a new Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County report just sent to members of a Community Overdose Action Team formed last year to slow the number of overdose deaths in the county.

Overall, 2,255 Montgomery County patients received emergency treatment last year for overdoses. Almost 13 percent — or 287 patients — made multiple trips to an emergency department.

RELATED: Ohio tops nation in opioid overdoses

The 12-page report was not distributed to alarm the community, but rather to assist local officials in analyzing overdose trends and finding solutions, said Dan Suffoletto, spokesman for Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County.

“The reason for sending this out is to show an example of how we get data here to make decisions and distribute resources when an anomaly occurs,” Suffoletto said.

RELATED: More potent drugs raise stakes in Ohio’s fight against opioids

Hospital and urgent care emergency data — stripped of identifying information — are reported in near real time to the Ohio Department of Health’s EpiCenter, the state’s syndromic surveillance system. The system, traditionally used to monitor influenza pandemics and detect environmental exposures and potential bioterrorism, was expanded in 2015 to monitor drug-related emergency room visits.

Miami Valley Hospital saw 968 — or 33.6 percent — of the county’s overdose patients in 2016. Good Samaritan Hospital received 588 (20.4 percent) patients followed by Grandview Medical Center with 380 (13.2 percent), Kettering Memorial Hospital with 239 (8.3 percent), and Sycamore Hospital with 201 (7 percent).

RELATED: Dayton tops list of drugged-out cities

Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley said up-to-date information will help the Community Overdose Action Team he leads meet its goal of first stabilizing and then reducing the number of overdose deaths. In 2015, the last year for which full records are available, 259 people died of unintentional overdose deaths in Montgomery County.

“We need good data to help us target our limited resources as we work toward reducing the number of opiate deaths in our community,” Foley said. “This report about emergency room usage due to drug overdose incidents is the kind of information that the community will begin to see on a more frequent basis.”

RELATED: Montgomery County to combat overdose deaths like public health crisis

The team is comprised of representatives from many community organizations including Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County, the Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services board of Montgomery County, Dayton Police Department, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, and others including those in the courts and criminal justice system.

More than 60 percent of the emergency department visits were by patients between the ages of 25 and 49. Overall, males accounted for 54 percent of emergency department visits. Girls under 17, however, were more than three times as likely to be treated for an overdose than boys.

The report represents an estimate of overdoses based on a the chief complaint registered when a patient enters an emergency department. Further, the report is not limited to opioid overdoses. In recent years, opioids accounted for more than 90 percent of overdose deaths in the county.

Our reporters have closely followed the heroin crisis for years with an eye toward those working on solutions to a complex public health crisis. Find previous stories on our premium website myDaytonDailyNews.com.

By the numbers

2,255: Number of Montgomery County patients who received emergency treatment last year for overdoses.

13: Percentage of those patients who made multiple trips to the emergency room.

259: Number of people who died of unintentional overdose deaths in Montgomery County in 2015.

11: Number of people who were treated twice in the same day in 2016.

Source: Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County

Wellness Fair encourages people to ‘get moving’

Published: Thursday, December 29, 2016 @ 2:26 PM

CEDARVILLE — Cedarville University’s Schools of Nursing and Pharmacy are partnering with Cedarville’s athletic department to help the community “get moving” during the new year with the second annual Wellness Fair.

The event is part of a community health and wellness initiative to encourage physical activity and participation in the Linda Ferguson Memorial 5K on campus May 13. Ferguson was a Cedarville resident and alumna of the university who died of cancer in 2011.

Related: Cedarville U. librarian recognized as among best in Ohio

The campaign includes a wellness fair 4:30-7 p.m. in the Stranahan Gymnasium during the women’s and men’s home basketball games Thursday, Jan. 5.

Related: Greene County middle school crowns top speller

The school of pharmacy will also offer free health screenings and the school of nursing will donate pedometers to the first 150 guests.

For more information or to register for the race visit www.ferguson5k.com

CASEY LAUGHTER