Washing your hands is an essential part of daily routines that can help to keep you safer from potentially harmful microorganisms. There are a wide range of problems that could arise if you do not frequently and adequately wash your hands throughout the day. You could be setting yourself up for various types of illnesses, could be putting other people around you at risk, as well as potentially leading to antibiotic resistance.
Respiratory illnesses are the most common type of diseases which can result from not washing your hands. The common cold is the most likely of these, but there are some which are far worse, including influenza, pneumonia, adenovirus, or even hand, foot, and mouth disease. The likelihood of getting any of these diseases is decreased by 16 to 21 percent through proper handwashing, according to the CDC.
Respiratory illnesses aren’t the only potentially harmful diseases that could be caused by not washing your hands. Bacteria and viruses that could be picked up after going to the bathroom can cause diarrhea-related illnesses. Salmonella, norovirus, and E. coli 0157 are just three of the potentially harmful bacteria or viruses which could cause these diarrhea-related illnesses.
Food poisoning is another illness that you could get without proper handwashing. Not only could you get food poisoning, though, you could also potentially give it if you are preparing food for people and do not use proper handwashing techniques. Raw meat, vegetables, and eggs have potentially harmful bacteria on them, so adequate hand washing is essential to prevent cross-contamination of people's food.
You could potentially be getting other people sick by not washing your hands. Anytime you touch your eyes, nose or mouth and then touch a doorknob or other objects, you are potentially spreading germs from yourself to the next person who feels that doorknob. Also, when you touch that doorknob, not only are you leaving behind microbes for the next people, you are potentially picking up the germs of each of the people who touched that doorknob before you. By washing your hands frequently, you could avoid getting sick from this, especially by avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth until after washing your hands.
There are many potential reasons that a person could have a weakened immune system. Young infants, the elderly, and those who are immunocompromised are all at risk for getting sick from people, especially those people who do not wash their hands. These people with weakened immune systems can take all the preventative measures to avoid getting sick, but one person can come in contact with them who doesn't wash their hands properly to infect them with some disease. To most people, this could be only a minor problem, but to them could be severely life-threatening.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the most significant future threats to humans as there are many microorganisms which can survive treatments with antibiotics, which used to kill these microorganisms. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one of the most well known and most abundant forms of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. This is a serious problem, and people who are not washing their hands and are spreading diseases like these are the most significant contributors to the antibiotic resistance. To treat these diseases that are being spread, it requires antibiotics, and the continued use of antibiotics is what is causing the antibiotic-resistant strains of these microorganisms to be more abundant.
Each of these are potential effects of not washing your hands, and some of these are very severe and can not only put yourself in danger but can also increase the risk of serious harm to other people. It is essential that everyone washes their hands frequently and effectively to keep everyone safer and decrease the spread of diseases.