So far this year you’ve been keeping your New Year resolutions. Most nights you’re getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep. You’ve been going to the gym and doing your workouts regularly. You’ve been eating your required servings of fruits and vegetables every day. At the bakery you skipped the chocolate cream-filled doughnut and cheese Danish and settled for an oat-bran muffin.

So how come you’re still having difficulty breathing and shortness of breath? Your sinuses are congested. You walk around with burning, watery or reddened eyes. You have dry hacking coughs and throat irritants. You break out in skin rashes. Could it be because of the bugs and germs that surround you?

When you curl up on a sofa to watch TV you’re not alone. You share that sofa with millions of germs. Also, germs can live up to two days on a TV remote. Moving from room to room, the doorknobs you touch are germ loaded. When you’re hungry you open the fridge handle, another germ collector. You think because it’s cold inside the fridge that no germs can survive there, but raw meat and vegetables may contain bacteria, like E.coli and salmonella that will contaminate other food. After removing the food you head for the kitchen sink, counters, cutting boards and dishrags. Usually bits of raw food have found their way into the surfaces. Your dish sponge is wet, absorbent, and you rub food and dirt with it all the time. Who knows what germs thrive on your salt and pepper shakers.

Having finished your meal you head for the bathroom. You brush your teeth but the tooth brush you’re using to kill bacteria is more likely to be full of bacteria due to particles of food that get trapped in the bristles. You gargle with water but germs live on the bathroom faucets that you’ve just turned on. Teeth now brushed, you sit down on the potty. How many others have handled the toilet paper? Every time you flush bacteria are propelled into the air through small droplets of toilet water. You take a shower, but mold grows near the shower and crud creeps into the shower curtains and bathroom tiles. You turn on the showerhead that harbours a cornucopia of microbes. As it multiplies it releases spores full of germs into the air. Out of the shower, before going to bed you make a call on your cell, and then turn off the light switch — two other germ carriers. You’re now ready to hit the sack. I won’t tell you what lives in your pillows, bed linens, mattresses and bed covers — for fear you’ll have nightmares.

Although germs cause health problems you still need some exposure to them in order to build up your immune system. So just open your windows and let the fresh air in. Try to get a good night’s sleep knowing you will be safer at work in the morning.

When was the last time the elevator buttons you pushed were cleaned? Once in the office, you now desperately need that cup of coffee. When did you last wash your coffee mug? Also, the damp, dark reservoir in your coffee maker could be full of yeast, mold, and germs. Naturally, you need a snack with your coffee. Germs live in the microwave. The vending machine buttons aren’t that clean, either.

Rushing to finish an assignment you eat lunch over your computer keyboard and probably get some crumbs into it, filling it with germs. On your way home you stop at the supermarket. That shopping cart you push is full of germs. How many people have handled it, before you?

So here’s a “germ” of an idea to add to your New Year resolutions: “After anything I touch I will always wash my hands.”

Now that you’re into a regular workout routine, you do not want to stop for a few weeks because of a bad cold. So before even hitting the gym, get your good night’s sleep, maintain your healthy diet and wash your hands frequently. That way, the germs and bugs hardly stand a chance.

riben@videotron.ca

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