Minimize Infection in Schools and Offices

Edited by Olivia, Anonymous, Robbi, Eng and 3 others

Have you noticed that when someone sneezes inside the office, the next morning, a number of people would be sneezing too? How about your children? You send your kid to school just this morning all healthy and fine but when she gets home, she's running a fever.

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Oliviabacayao Disease.jpg

The World Health Organization used the definition of health[1] in the WHO constitution's preface. This goes all the way back to the 1946 International Health Conference which was held in New York. It states there that an individual is said to be healthy when he is in a state of complete,physical, mental and social well-being. It does not necessarily mean that an individual is healthy just because he's not ill.

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Quite true. Not because you see someone not sneezing or is all happy and gay, it doesn't always mean that they are perfectly healthy. But then, there's no point in being paranoid all about it. Unless it runs in the family, there is always a way to prevent contracting a disease.

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Basically, a compromised or lowered resistance to illness is the opportunity that bacteria and viruses wait for. The immune system is the body's system responsible in forming cells that fight the infection. It is a fact that there exists some amount of good bacteria in the body. Though there are good bacteria that resides within the body, when they multiply more than the immune system can control them, it can overwhelm the soldier cells of the system.

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Before you can prevent something, you have to understand the possibility of it happening. As such, you need to know what influences a lowered immune system and situations that will make you vulnerable to acquire an illness.

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What can cause a low immune system?

Stress

Oliviabacayao Stress Students.jpg

There is much talk about stress being a constant visitor in the workplace and in schools. In fact, it was so common, that many people are doing their best in minimizing the amount of stress they receive. Stress can lower the immune system. This is what a pair of researchers, a psychologist and an immunologist from the Ohio State University found out from studying medical students preparing for the three-day USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Exam)[2]

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The fact that stress can lower the body's capacity to fight infection was later on supported by analytic studies made by two doctors, one from University of Kentucky and the other, from University of Columbia.[3]

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What are the causes of Stress?

  1. 1
    Anxiety.
    Oliviabacayao Anxiety.jpg
    The research conducted on the medical students preparing to take their licensing examination proved that the immune system responds to the amount of anxiety that the students experienced.[4] The anxiety may come from fear of not passing it, coupled with some expectations from friends and loved ones. Most of the time, these medical students require to live near the school, especially during their hospital internship completion. Being away from your comfort zone contributes to the anxiety.
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  2. 2
    Depression.
    Oliviabacayao Depression.jpg
    [5] The groundwork accomplished by the two doctors from the University of Kentucky and Columbia along with a doctor from John Hopkins School of Medicine showed that long-term depression lowered the immune system. It was conducted to a selected group of caregivers for clients with Alzheimer's disease and people in their early 70's. [6] The depression that accompanied Alzheimer's disease will, in the long run overwhelm the immune system. Older people with depression also showed significant result of lowered biological defense system. For these participants, the lack of social support contributed to the severity of depression. [7] Students as well, especially timid ones developed depression from their lack if not minimal social interaction. This was presented from a [8] study conducted by researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University's Laboratory for the Study of Stress, Immunity and Disease.
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  3. 3
    Lifestyle.
    Oliviabacayao drunk.jpg
    Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, "We are what we do." For a man who belongs to history, he might have predicted man's tendency to misbehave and abuse his capacity. An individual's lifestyle can lower the immune system. If you are an employee who works long after the moon have shone, seven-days a week, chances are your body's defense system do not get enough rest and nourishment to recover. The longer you maintain this kind of lifestyle, the more you predisposes your body to succumb to illness. Young professionals who always look forward to Friday and Saturday night clubbing, spending their hard-earned money weekly on booze and nicotine will naturally get their fair share of vulnerability to diseases. In addition, a lifestyle of unprotected promiscuity will eventually help the microorganisms to conquer the soldier cells of your body.
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  4. 4
    Misinformation.
    Oliviabacayao misinformation.jpg
    With advancement of today's technology, there also came an unparalleled amount of information freely available to anyone. Individuals who read and absorb information without its veracity will add to any existing factors that help defeat the body's immune system. It would be impossible to see every website and compare the information they provide.Children and students who are doing their school assignments, even college students are vulnerable to this factor. They need utmost guidance and supervision. People who live in far flung areas are the most vulnerable to misconception and misinformation. Since they have no access to the resources that you enjoy, they would probably listen and believe someone who comes to their place with far more skills than they have as an expert, even if his statements are not supported by facts.
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  5. 5
    Familial Tendency.
    Oliviabacayao family tree.jpg
    Though one cannot do much in terms of their family medical history, not inquiring about it will not help your body to fight opportunistic bacteria and viruses to take hold of your body's defense system. For instance, resignation to one's family history of hypertension or high blood pressure and not doing anything to prevent it will soon give rise to heart-related problems, which by the way is more difficult to manage.
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How to Minimize Infection

To minimize infection, you should take measures in preventing its transmission. Here are ways how you can protect yourself from infection.

For Stress-Related Infection

Stress-related infections are too many to mention. In fact, most of the diseases and disorders that are reported and being found resulted from overwhelming stress. Controlling the stress is the key factor in minimizing the infection. Here's how:

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Oliviabacayao Social Interaction.jpg

  • Allocate time for social interaction
  • See a movie with a friend every once in a while or read a good book.
  • Spend time with your family. Converse with your partner and your kids.Exchange jokes with them.
  • Device measures to prevent anxiety and depression to set in by focusing your mind on healthy activities like using social networking sites or browsing hilarious photos and jokes.
  • Reinforce positive thinking by acknowledging that whatever obstacles you come upfront with, there will always be resources to overcome it. You just have to stop feeling bad about it.
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Lifestyle Related Infection or Diseases

Oliviabacayao Healthy Lifestyle.jpg

If you will try to read at least 5 write ups on diseases, you will find out that 4 out of the 5 diseases developed from an unhealthy lifestyle and behavior. Here's how you can control them:

  • Believe that for you to contract an illness, there must be an unhealthy behavior that contributed to it.
  • Initiate to stop smoking. Join groups of people who've been successful in quitting.
  • Avoid areas that may tempt you to go back to the old behavior.
  • Moderate the booze. If you have to drink, drink socially and do not share silverware, shot glasses or beer bottles. Join a support group if need be.
  • Balance work with relaxation by spending time with your family and friends.
  • If you know that you'll have the tendency to do more work than is necessary, ask a friend or your loved one to call and remind you. Limit your overtime work to 5 hours in a week.
  • Plan to replace booze night with movie night or camping, trekking and mountain climbing. Plan and try to carry-out all leisure activities that you haven't done yet to take your mind off the alcohol.
  • Read on the ill-effects of promiscuity to help increase your acquiescence to protected coitus.
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For the Misinformation

Oliviabacayao Be Informed.jpg

Be wary of information that you read from the web. Just as a photo can be edited, so is information. It can be twisted to suit the intent of the information provider.

Update yourself on health-related issues to know how it can be prevented. Learn to deduce the true benefit from what you read or see. Verify information if you are in doubt. It is always wise to ask questions later, than be sorry afterwards. And keep yourself informed by reading printed media as well as authority websites.

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For Hereditary illness

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Not because you know that a certain illness in the family cannot be avoided, it should not keep you from living a healthy and enjoyable life as much as possible. Learn about your family medical history. Consult a doctor and ask the possibility of you having the condition. Take measures to increase your immune system by good amount of exercise, sufficient rest, adequate nutrition and balanced work and relaxation. And keep yourself informed on research updates on hereditary illness and medical breakthroughs.

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Oliviabacayao Handwashing.jpg

If there is already an infection in your office or in the school, then minimizing the number of people being affected would now be your concern. Here's what you can do:

  • Learn and execute the value of proper hand-washing.
  • Advocate and teach hand-washing to your kids and in school.
  • If there is no ample water supply in your office or school, bring a sanitizer or alcohol with you.
  • Strategically install hand sanitizers inside the premises of your work and school.
  • Sneeze, wipe your mouth with a tissue, not a handkerchief.
  • Throw away tissue after using it, not in your bag but in the trash bin. Keeping the tissue where you sneeze will provide microorganisms ample time to multiply inside your purse.
  • Bring your own set of spoon and fork. Wash them after each meal. Do not let them stand for long periods of time before washing it. Soak them in hot water for 5 minutes before keeping in a tight and clean container.
  • If you are not sure of your child's choices on food, bring him or let him bring packed lunch or dinner. This ensures that the food he will eat is clean. This will also help trace the source of infection, should any illness come up.
  • If your child cannot bring lunch, check the sanitary permit of the school's canteen. This should also be a good technique with your office's food provider. Should you find something amiss with their process or food, be sure to bring it up with the proper authorities.
  • Keep a wound clean and covered. Replace dressings everyday. Wrap the soiled wound dressings in a separate bag and throw it in it's properly-labeled trash bin.
  • Install an air filter in a room where there is no chance of opening the Windows.
  • Do not report for work or school if you are ill. Go see a doctor and comply with the prescribed treatment to hasten healing, avoid complication and transmission of infection to others.
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Oliviabacayao Chicken pox.jpg

To get infected with an illness is not always a bad thing. One example is chickenpox. Chickenpox is a common childhood disease. Even if you have gotten yourself vaccinated for it, you may still contract it. However, if you do, it gives the chance for your immune system to fight it and keep a record of it. By keeping a record of it, you will not get the disease anymore.

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On the other hand, not all diseases requires that you get them before you get lifetime immunity. One good example is the oral polio vaccine. When you have completed the immunization, you are protected from the condition.

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Infection both weakens and strengthens you. With the right information and attitude, the workplace and the school will be a more productive place of growth, career and learning.

Bibliography

1. Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946.

2. Mind and immunity In: D. Goleman & J. Gurin, (Eds.) Mind/Body Medicine (pp. 39-59)

3. Chronic stress modulates the immune response to a pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. Psychosomatic Medicine, 62, 804-807; Glaser, R., Sheridan, J. F., Malarkey, W. B., MacCallum, R. C., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (2000)

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4. Psychoneuroimmunology: Psychological influences on immune function and health; Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., McGuire, L., Robles, T., & Glaser, R. (2002).

5. Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry. Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 130, No. 4; Segerstrom, S. C. and Miller, G. E. (2004).

6. Long-term caregiving: What happens when it ends? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 110, 573-584; Robinson-Whelen, S., Tada, Y., MacCallum, R. C., McGuire, L., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (2001).

7. Depression and immune function: Central pathways to morbidity and mortality; Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 53, 873-876.; Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., & Glaser, R. (2002).

8. Loneliness, Social Network Size and Immune Response to Influenza Vaccination in College Freshmen, Health Psychology, 24, pages, Pressman, S. D., Cohen, S., Miller, G.E., Barkin, A., Rabin, B. S., Treanor, J. J. (2005).

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  1. Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and implemented on 7 April 1948.
  2. Mind and immunity In: D. Goleman & J. Gurin, (Eds.) Mind/Body Medicine (pp. 39-59). New York: Consumer Reports; Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Glaser, R. (1993).
  3. Chronic stress modulates the immune response to a pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. Psychosomatic Medicine, 62, 804-807; Glaser, R., Sheridan, J. F., Malarkey, W. B., MacCallum, R. C., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (2000)
  4. Psychoneuroimmunology: Psychological influences on immune function and health; Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., McGuire, L., Robles, T., & Glaser, R. (2002).
  5. Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry. Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 130, No. 4; Segerstrom, S. C. and Miller, G. E. (2004).
  6. Long-term caregiving: What happens when it ends? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 110, 573-584; Robinson-Whelen, S., Tada, Y., MacCallum, R. C., McGuire, L., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (2001).
  7. Depression and immune function: Central pathways to morbidity and mortality; Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 53, 873-876.; Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., & Glaser, R. (2002).
  8. Loneliness, Social Network Size and Immune Response to Influenza Vaccination in College Freshmen, Health Psychology, 24, pages, Pressman, S. D., Cohen, S., Miller, G.E., Barkin, A., Rabin, B. S., Treanor, J. J. (2005).
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Recent edits by: Alma, sheryl hernandez, Eng

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