4 Simple Steps to Help Safeguard Your Health

(NC) Modern medicine leans heavily on antibiotics, which are intended to kill harmful germs in your body. But over time, germs can become resistant to the tools we use against them. What do we do when our medicines don't kill off germs?

Fortunately, you can fight back just by doing these four easy things:

1. Wash your hands. If you can avoid getting sick in the first place, you've denied germs an entire body to grow in. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with plain soap and water after touching surfaces like doorknobs, keyboards, utensils and anything else that other people may have used. Exercise some healthy caution when it comes to what you touch and use alcohol-based sanitizer when soap and water aren't available. When you prepare foods such as meat, dairy products, and even fruits and vegetables, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water and clean any surfaces your food has come in contact with.

2. Get vaccinated. Prevention is the best medicine, and one of the best things you can do is protect yourself with a vaccine. Vaccines work differently than antibiotics. Instead of trying to kill an existing infection, a vaccine trains your healthy body to fight the disease in the future. Children can especially benefit from being vaccinated, because they haven't had time to build up their own immunities. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date.

3. If you are sick, stay home. Stay away from people as much as you can when you are sick and keep your germs to yourself. Keep the bathroom clean along with other shared surfaces in your home to avoid spreading germs to others.

4. Take antibiotics as directed by your healthcare provider. Antibiotics are only effective in treating bacterial infections, not viruses. Before taking antibiotics, talk to your healthcare provider about whether antibiotics are the best treatment option.  Remember that misuse and overuse of antibiotics can lead to resistance, meaning that the strongest bacteria survive and antibiotics become less effective on them or sometimes don't work at all.

Find more information at canada.ca/antibiotics.

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