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The goal to prevent communicable diseases, which range from the common cold to extremely dangerous illnesses like meningitis, is laudable but likely unachievable. The numbers of diseases that are contracted by humans and passed in one form or another to other humans are overwhelming, making total disease eradication impossible. It is possible to limit the spread of communicable diseases through a variety of healthy behaviors and actions. For the average individual, following some basic guidelines may reduce the number of illnesses contracted and could help avoid contact with dangerous and life threatening conditions.
For someone who wants to commit to healthy living and fewer illnesses, they should first consider supporting a healthy immune system. Maintaining a healthy weight, refraining from smoking and excess drinking, eating a well-balanced diet, getting adequate sleep (at least eight hours for adults and 10-12 hours for kids), and reducing stress may actually make the immune system stronger. This means when people encounter an illness, they may fight it off more easily or have faster recovery.
Simple and sensible behaviors may also help reduce the number of communicable diseases spread or contracted. Proper handwashing after using the bathroom, after being in a busy location like a school or grocery store, and directly before meals is important. Careful washing and cooking of food is recommended, as this may prevent a number of bacterial infections. Avoiding people who have an active illness that is contagious, and staying home from work or having the kids stay home from school when they’re ill all help to reduce the spread of disease.
Special circumstances exist where greater precautions are needed. Anytime a person travels, they should pay attention to all safe guidelines for travel in a particular area, like avoiding eating fresh vegetables or drinking unbottled water, and get any shots needed to protect from communicable diseases that may be present in certain areas. Traveling isn’t the only circumstance under which special precautions are needed. Sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDs, can often be prevented with safer sex practices. Anyone who uses injected drugs also needs to find ways to use clean needles to avoid contracting HIV and some forms of hepatitis.
Some people are occupationally at greater risk for contracting communicable diseases including many healthcare workers and those who work with animals or wildlife. Any time a person is more at risk, they should follow recommendations for minimizing potential contraction of illnesses. A nurse following safe needle handling protocol is less likely to come into contact with blood-borne illness from accidental needle sticks. Safe handling of a potentially rabid animal could mean people are less likely to contract rabies.
In many cases, a number of severe illnesses can be almost fully prevented by vaccination. People are familiar with vaccinations for children, but there are also vaccinations for the adult, including yearly flu shots, tetanus shots, hepatitis vaccines, and chicken pox and shingles vaccines. Staying on a proper vaccination schedule, and asking doctors for guidelines on the right vaccines for a person’s age group is key toward preventing some devastating communicable diseases.