Toys in Doctors’ Offices Are Germ Hotbeds
Refrigerator Handles, Light Switches, Phone Keypads Also Harbor Germs
Masks, Hand Sanitizers Can Help
So how can you protect yourself? The typical advice that's been passed from generation to generation is to wash your hands frequently during cold and flu season to avoid catching a bug. Now, a University of Michigan study suggests that wearing surgical masks and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers can also help.
The researchers studied about 1,000 students who lived in dorms during last year's flu season. They were divided into three groups for six weeks: one group wore masks, one wore masks and used hand sanitizers, and one did neither.
Results showed that the students in the two groups that wore masks were about 10% to 50% less likely to develop flu-like symptoms than those who used no preventive measures.
Researcher Allison Aiello, MD, says further study is needed to confirm the results. "Nevertheless, these initial results are encouraging since masks and hand hygiene may be effective for preventing a range of respiratory illnesses," she says.