Friday, October 31, 2014

Pumpkin Health Benefits You Should Know About Before Throwing Away Your Halloween Pumpkins

Pumpkin health benefits. Everybody's having them this Halloween but how many are actually gobbling them up? Don't be too quick to throw away that rich whole some goodness of pumpkin insides when making your Halloween decorations, that pumpkin could just be the key to a better heart and health.

Here are  5 surprising
health benefits of pumpkins 
that you did not know about:

Boosts vision

Pumpkins contain a healthy dose of Vitamin A. In fact, just a cup of cubed pumpkin contains almost twice the recommended daily dose vitamin A, which is essential for good vision, especially in dim light. The vitamin has also been found to reduce the decline of retinal function in patients of retinitis pigmentosa.

Low blood pressure

The pumpkin seed oil is full of phytoestrogens, which is brilliant for keeping hypertension at bay. Researchers found that feeding rats with a high pumpkin seed diet supplement lowered their systolic and diastolic blood pressure in just 12 weeks.

Protects your package

The pumpkin seeds are rich in beta-carotene and multiple other antioxidants which have cancer protective properties. Especially for men, the health benefits of pumpkins can not be understated.
Pumpkin seeds contain about 2.75 mg of zinc, which is already about 17% of the daily recommended dose of the mineral. Zinc contributes to better sexual health for men. Studies show that when young men do not take or restrict their dietary zinc, their testosterone levels fell significantly in 20 weeks.

Healthy hearts

Pumpkin seeds contain about 1.7 grams of dietary fiber per ounce. All that fiber in pumpkins helps the heart function better. Women who have higher fiber in their diet have a 25 % lower risk of contracting heart disease as compared with women with a lower fiber diet.

Feel Fuller

All that fiber helps keep you fuller and hence you eat less. Have more pumpkins for its amazing health benefits.
Source: Food World News- Pumpkin Health Benefits you Should Know About Before Throwing Away Your Halloween Pumpkins

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Health Insurance

How to Skirt Common Health Insurance Traps

The one constant when buying health insurance is uncertainty. A sudden illness can carry in its wake a flood tide of unwelcome medical bills. The point of health insurance is to minimize the havoc from such bills. But you can't plan your illnesses, so how can you know how much insurance you might need? The ever-rising cost of healthcare, moreover, has driven insurers and employers to shift much more of the burden to policyholders through higher deductibles and coinsurance and slapping copays onto more services. It can be a challenge just to figure out in advance how much you'd wind up paying out of pocket if you do get sick.
Nowhere are unknowns a bigger concern than in the so-called individual market, where consumers purchase health coverage directly from an insurer rather than through an employer or the government. In many states, insurers can require you, and members of your family if you're shopping for a family plan, to pass a medical exam to qualify for coverage. If you don't pass, or you have a prexisting health condition, the plans can turn you down. (That will change in 2014, when a provision of the recently upheld Affordable Care Act takes effect and outlaws rejection for medical reasons.) You also could be charged much more per month than the published premium may have led you to believe if you are deemed likely to run up medical bills.
The tripwire that may be the least expected, until it wrecks your budget, is the annual out-of-pocket limit. Almost always displayed as a flat dollar amount, the term refers to the maximum you have to pay for your care in a given year before the plan picks up your expenses from then on—or so it would seem from the term. Unfortunately, many plans still impose deductibles, copays, and coinsurance after you reach the supposed limit of your out-of-pocket expenses. Retaining even one of these cost items could vacuum thousands of dollars from your pocket. What's more, a plan can put a limit on the total amount it pays out in a year. All charges above that maximum benefit are your responsibility, regardless of the stated out-of-pocket limit.
How could a mere copay, which you may think of as that annoying $20 or $30 flat charge you pay when you see a doctor, have such financial impact? Isn't coinsurance usually a small percentage? Both can carry more weight than you'd think. A copay can be hundreds of dollars if it is your share of an emergency-room bill. And coinsurance, your percentage of the cost of a service, may be a modest 10 percent or it could be the entire 100 percent. It also matters whether the copay or coinsurance is charged before you've met your deductible or afterwards. If before, you no longer have to make these payments when you've paid off your deductible. If after, the obligation is open-ended and may cost you more.
Here's a reality-grounded example: a plan in the U.S. News universe with a premium of $500 a month and a relatively low annual deductible of just $750. But U.S. News Best Health Insurance Plans shows that the plan's out-of-pocket limit of $2,500 doesn't include the deductible. That effectively pushes the out-of-pocket limit to $3,250.
That's not all. The out-of-pocket limit also doesn't include coinsurance on prescriptions, physician visits, hospital stays, or any other medical expense. Coinsurance is pegged at 30 percent or more in this plan for virtually every costly service, so in addition to your premium and deductible, you'll be responsible for nearly one-third of every medical cost you accrue, from brand-name drugs to ER care. If you get a hospital bill of $10,000, you'll pay $3,000 of it in addition to your deductible.
Another complication: Some of these hospital or doctor fees apply even after you've met your annual deductible, pushing your out-of-pocket costs higher. Oh, and there's also a $200 copay every time you use an emergency room.
Best Health Insurance Plans helps you spot these tripwires in advance by in some cases giving higher ratings to plans that clearly describe their cost sharing. Plans that shift less of the cost to consumers through coinsurance receive potentially higher ratings as well.

Besides these factors, you should also check those listed below. Be on the alert for:

  • The percentage of applicants denied enrollment, which is a measure of a plan's selectivity. Some issuers offer plans but turn down two-thirds of applicants or more, based on concerns about their medical risk or other factors. A high denial rate may be an indication that, if you or someone in your family has medical issues, you may want to look at more inclusive plans.
  • The percentage of applicants charged more than the stated premium. Just as some plans turn down many applicants for medical reasons, some issuers charge a high percentage of policyholders more than the stated premium for coverage. Plans may accept these policyholders anyway, but charge more because their medical history suggests that they are likely to use more services.
  • Specific categories of care that aren't covered by a given plan, such as cosmetic surgery, children's eye exams and weight-loss therapy.
  • Plans with a narrow scope of benefits or strict limitations that may leave you exposed to high medical costs related to catastrophic injuries or ailments. Generally speaking these are plans that are more likely to have received fewer stars in the U.S. News analysis. Always read the fine print before you settle on a plan.
  • Plans with high deductibles (generally defined as $1,200 or more for an individual and $2,400 and up for a family) that may cover you for severe medical problems but could saddle you with mounting bills for routine care. Under the Affordable Care Act, a high-deducible plan purchased after March 2010 must offer free preventive care whether or not you've met the deductible. (If you're healthy and want to minimize your monthly premium, you may prefer a high-deductible plan. They can be coupled with tax-deductible health savings accounts, which allow you to put aside money for routine medical expenses.)
  • Plans that do not cover specific drugs that you need. Visit the plan's website to see whether your medications are included in the plan's formulary.
  • Plans whose networks don't include the doctors and hospitals where you get your care
  • Source: U.S. News & World Report- Health Insurance

  • Wednesday, October 22, 2014

    Is It Really Dementia?

    Maybe it's something else...

    That’s what you tell yourself, isn’t it, when an older person begins to lose her memory, repeat herself, see things that aren’t there, lose her way on streets she’s traveled for decades? Maybe it’s not dementia.
    And sometimes, thankfully, it is indeed some other problem, something that mimics the cognitive destruction of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia — but, unlike them, is fixable.
    “It probably happens more often than people realize,” said Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a neuroscientist at Duke University Medical Center. But, he added, it doesn’t happen nearly as often as family members hope.
    Several confounding cases have appeared at Duke: A woman who appeared to have Alzheimer’s actually was suffering the effects of alcoholism. Another patient’s symptoms resulted not from dementia but from chronic depression.
    Dr. Doraiswamy estimates that when doctors suspect Alzheimer’s, they’re right 50 to 60 percent of the time.
     (The accuracy of Alzheimer’s diagnoses, even in specialized medical centers, is more haphazard than you would hope.)
    Perhaps another 25 percent of patients actually have other types of dementia, like Lewy body or frontotemporal — scarcely happy news, but because these diseases have different trajectories and can be exacerbated by the wrong drugs, the distinction matters.
    The remaining 15 to 25 percent “usually have conditions that can be reversed or at least improved,” Dr. Doraiswamy said.
    In trying to tell the difference — not a job for amateurs — one key consideration is age, said Dr. Ronald C. Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s center.
    Dementia is highly age-related, he pointed out. In a 50-year-old, memory problems might very well have some other cause. But “the likelihood that a 75-year-old’s becoming forgetful over six to 12 to 18 months is due to something treatable and fixable is low,” Dr. Petersen said. “But not zero.”
    Which points to another key question: speed of onset. Dementia tends to develop slowly; family members often realize, in retrospect, that an older person has shown subtle cognitive decline for years.
    When a person’s mental state changes suddenly over a few days or weeks, however, “that’s not the usual picture of a degenerative disease,” Dr. Petersen said. “That means looking for something else.”
    The list of other causes for dementia-like symptoms runs surprisingly long. Among the leading culprits, Dr. Doraiswamy said, are: 
    Depression and anxiety
    Like dementia, they can interfere with the ability to concentrate and remember.
    Thyroid problems
    He looks next for thyroid deficiency. “Thyroid problems are very prevalent, and thyroid has a huge effect on the brain at every age,” he said. Usually, “this can be relatively easily tested for and relatively easily fixed” with daily medication.
    Vitamin deficiencies
    Vitamin deficiencies probably qualify as the most hoped-for scenario. Cognitive problems caused by lack of vitamin B1 (thiamine) or B12 are reversible with pills or injections.
    Heavy drinking
    Heavy drinking also causes memory loss. “If you stop drinking, if it’s not too late, the brain can repair itself,” Dr. Doraiswamy said. After years of alcoholism, “you may not be able to repair the damage, but you can keep it from getting worse.”
    Sleep disorders
    Sleep disorders, and in particular sleep apnea, can take a cognitive toll on older people. “Their cognitive function may become slower, with poor attention and concentration,” Dr. Petersen said. When patients with apnea use a C.P.A.P. machine, “they come back the next year markedly improved.”

    Sleeping pills

    Sleeping pills — you knew this was coming — and a variety of other drugs, especially in combination, frequently cause dementia-like symptoms, too.

    "There’s a long list, several hundred drugs, both prescription and over the counter, that can impair memory,” Dr. Doraiswamy said. He rattled off a bunch: medications for nausea and urinary incontinence, older antihistamines like Benadryl, cardiac drugs, painkillers, certain antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications — yes, including benzodiazepines. Selectively deprescribing may help clear a patient’s head.
    There’s more. Head injuries that lead to the blot clots called subdural hematomas. High blood pressure. Diabetes. Infections. A condition called normal pressure hydrocephalusDelirium that develops during hospitalization.
    Plus, older people can have any of these problems along with actual dementia. Treating the other causes may at least slow, though not stop, cognitive decline.
    So it makes sense, Dr. Petersen said, to tell patients and families — many already terrified of dementia — that other causes exist. “We shouldn’t just dismiss them,” he said. “We scan the brain, do blood tests. We look for these other conditions. That’s common and not inappropriate.”
    On the other hand, “I want to be realistic,” he said. “I do it softly at first, but I introduce the notion that we might not find something else.”
    Because even though the list of other possibilities is long, so are the odds against restoring a patient to normal functioning. When it looks like dementia, sadly, most of the time it is.
    Source: The New York Times- Is It Really Dementia?- Paula Span

    Friday, October 17, 2014

    10 Tips for a Healthy Fall

    Seeya, summer.

    Welcome back, short days, crisp air and colorful leaves. Think of the new season as a fresh start to your healthy habits. Stow away the swim suit and dust off the sweaters forapple picking. Enjoy the seasonal produce that makes this season so tasty. And celebrate the holidays like a health pro – by enjoying foods without overindulging. Here’s how to enjoy your healthiest autumn yet.

    Think beyond pies 
    ​and jack-o-lanterns.

    All hail The Great Pumpkin! The pulp of this fall favorite is dense with vitamins A and C, and its tasty seeds, called pepitas, are rich in phytosterols, which may help to lower cholesterol. With all the health benefits of pumpkins, don’t they deserve to be more than a craft project that rots a few weeks later? Check out Eat + Run blogger Keri Glassman’s recipes for roasted pepitas, pumpkin spread and roasted pumpkin, plum and pecan spinach salad.

    Get your flu shot.

    Want to spend a week of autumn cooped up at home, suffering from fever, fatigue and aches? Didn’t think so. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season.” And no, no, no, the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu.

    And while you’re at it, steer clear of the common cold, too.

    Hydrate with tons of water throughout the day, and your immune system will thank you. The foods you eat can also help prevent the cold. Yogurt, with all its probiotic glory, has been shown toboost the immune system, and one serving of seaweed packs more vitamin C than an orange. Another immunity booster? The aforementioned autumn favorite: pumpkins.

    Sign out of Facebook, ditch the fall lineup and head outside.

    The leaves are bright on the trees and satisfyingly crunchy under your feet. The (usually) moderate temperature is a reprieve from the sweltering summer and a gift before the frigid winter. What better season to throw on a beanie and head outside? Plus, spending time outdoors increases your vitamin D levels, makes you happier and improves your concentration, according to Harvard Medical School.

    And while you’re outside, 
    ​get a workout.

    Take in the changing scenery on a run, hike or bike ride. Join an intramural fall sport, such as flag football, soccer or Ultimate Frisbee. Want a workout that’s a little less intense? Consider this: For a 150-pound person, 30 minutes of raking leaves, 30 minutes of planting and weeding and 30 minutes of playing with the little ones each burn roughly 150 calories.

    Scare off those 
    ​Halloween candy cravings.

    Maybe don’t swear off every candy corn kernel – where’s the fun in that? Just don’t morph into a sugar zombie. If you buy candy for trick-or-treaters, buy only enough for the kids. And wait until Halloween day to buy the candy, so the in-house sweets aren’t haunting you throughout October. If you buy the candy sooner, keep it out of sight in a cupboard.

    Eat like an athlete – not a couch potato – on game day.

    “My favorite football player outperformed another skilled athlete. I’ll celebrate his fitness by eating five servings of greasy potato chips!” Not this season. Set out raw veggies and dip instead of chips, and you’ll graze much more healthfully. Eat + Run blogger Keri Gans suggests other simpleimprovements to game day favorites, such as cutting pizza into smaller slices, doling chili into cups instead of bowl-sized portions and more.

    Buy in-season veggies, such as beets, broccoli 
    ​and Brussels sprouts.

    Not to mention cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, kale and squash. An abundance of tasty autumn vegetables makes it easy to reap the benefits of a plant-based diet, such as diabetes prevention, hypertension control, heart health and more. Eat + Run blogger Rebecca Scritchfield believes the best way to enjoy fall veggies is by roasting them with just a little oil, salt and pepper.

    Start Turkey Day with a protein- and fiber-packed breakfast, which will boost metabolism and help prevent sugar cravings, says Eat + Run blogger Heather Bauer. Then make a plan before the big meal, Glassman adds. Don’t mindlessly grab heaps of every dish available. Think through which you could do without, and which you really want – and for the latter, practice portion control.

    Give back

    Ideally, we’re giving yearlong, but what better reminder to boost ourgood deeds than Thanksgiving? Giving takes many forms, big and small, so the possibilities are endless. Give your co-workers a sweet surprise by bringing treats to share. Give older people some attention by visiting them at the nursing home. Simply give your fellow driver a break by letting him merge into your lane.
    Source: US News & World Report- Health: 10 Tips for a Healthy Fall

    Thursday, October 16, 2014

    Once-a-year Medicare open enrollment allows switch in Advantage and drug plans

    Medicare beneficiaries who want to change their prescription drug plan or Medicare Advantage coverage for 2015 can do so starting Oct. 15, during the Medicare program’s annual open enrollment period. There will be somewhat fewer plans to pick from this year, but in general people will have plenty of options, experts say.
    And although premiums aren’t expected to rise markedly overall — in some cases, they may actually decline — some plans have set significantly higher rates. But rather than rely on the sticker price alone, beneficiaries should compare their options to find the plan that covers the drugs and doctors they need, at the best price.
    Open enrollment, which ends Dec. 7, is also an opportunity to switch to a private Medicare Advantage plan from the traditional Medicare fee-for-service plan or to move from one Advantage plan to another.
    Although the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released some specifics about 2015 premiums and plans, some details about provider networks and the like won’t be available until open enrollment begins.

    Here's what we know so far:

    Standalone prescription drug plans

    The number of Part D standalone prescription drug plans will drop by 14 percent, to 1,001 plans. This is the smallest number of offerings since theMedicare Part D program began in 2006.
    Even so, “seniors across the country will still have a choice of at least two dozen plans in their area,” says Tricia Neuman, director of the Program on Medicare Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News, which helps produce this column, is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)
    The drug plan consolidations that are driving the reduction in choices will probably prompt many beneficiaries to choose lower-cost plans, resulting in an average premium decline of 2 percent, to $38.95 per month, according to an analysis by Avalere Health, a research and consulting firm.
    But that average obscures significant price hikes by some of the biggest plans. The average premium for the WellCare Classic plan, for example, will increase 52 percent, to $31.46, while the Humana Walmart RxPlan premium will rise 24 percent, to $15.67, according to Avalere.
    Insurers are expected to continue to shift more costs to beneficiaries next year. The percentage of drug plans with no deductible will decline to 42 percent from 47 percent, and, once again, about three-quarters of plans won’t offer any coverage in the “doughnut hole”— the coverage gap in which beneficiaries are responsible for shouldering a greater share of their drug costs.
    Underscoring the importance of evaluating plan options, 70 percent of standalone drug plan members will probably see their premiums increase if they stick with the same plan in 2015, says Ross Blair, senior vice president for, an online vendor.
    Seniors, though, have historically not voluntarily switched plans in great numbers during annual enrollment. Between 2006 and 2010, only 13 percent did so on average, according to a 2013 analysis by researchers at Georgetown University, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the University of Chicago.

    Medicare Advantage

    Enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans continues to grow: 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are now in these private alternatives, which typically are managed-care plans that often provide benefits — such as vision and dental coverage — that traditional Medicare does not. Concerns that the number of Medicare Advantage plans would shrink significantly as the health law reduces federal payments to them have proved unfounded to date. In 2015, the number of plans will drop by 3 percent, to 2,450, continuing a gradual decline.
    “You still have lots of plans and robust selection,” says Caroline Pearson, an Avalere vice president. Some parts of the country appear to be harder hit by plan reductions than others, including the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, Pearson says.
    Health maintenance organizations have always been the dominant sponsors of Medicare Advantage plans, and this trend will continue in 2015. The number of HMOs will increase by 1.5 percent, to 1,747, while the number of preferred provider organizations will drop by nearly 9 percent, to 541, according to Avalere. About two-thirds of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are now in HMOs, while 31 percent are in PPOs.
    The average premium will increase by $2.94 to $33.90, but nearly two-thirds of beneficiaries won’t see any increase, according to CMS. Like standalone drug plans, however, fewer Medicare Advantage drug plans will offer no deductibles and gap coverage, according to Avalere.
    “It’s one example of how plans are tightening up coverage” and pushing more costs onto consumers, Pearson says.
    Source: This column is produced through a collaboration between The Post andKaiser Health News. KHN, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy organization that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

    Monday, October 13, 2014

    The Need to Know on Your Favorite Fall Drinks

    As New York Magazine recently proclaimed, pumpkin is the new bacon. The newly ubiquitous flavoring is a popular option for the lineup of fall seasonal drinks at national coffeehouses like Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and Tim Horton's.
    But whether it's a pumpkin latte or a spiced apple cider, these festive drinks can hide fat, sugar and calories amidst the evocative, limited-time flavors. We've listed a few of the most common offenders, all size medium unless otherwise noted, with more sugar than candy bars and enough fat to make a serious dent in your daily allowance.
    To combat calorie-laden drinks, the CDC recommends choosing the smallest size, replacing whole milk with skim where appropriate and forgoing the whipped cream. Unfortunately, they recommend skipping flavor syrups (how your pumpkin mocha latte is created) altogether.
    Not ready to let go of fall's fab flavors? At least know what you're getting yourself into:

    Starbucks' Grande Caramel 

    Apple Spice with 

    Whipped Cream

    Calories: 360
    Fat: 8 g
    Saturated Fat: 4.5 g 
    Cholesterol: 30 mg
    Sugars: 68 g
    Sodium: 0 mg

    The deal:

    This coffee-free drink is marketed to kids and while 4.5 grams of saturated fat is an already high 22 percent of the daily allowance for an adult who eats 2,000 calories per day, it's significantly more for a child. That fat comes from the whipped cream, but even if that were to come off, there would still be 65 grams of sugar in the drink -- that's the equivalent of more than a can of coke (39 grams), a package of Twinkies (37 grams) and two Snickers bars (60 grams).

    Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte

    Calories: 380
    Fat: 13 g
    Saturated Fat: 8 g 
    Cholesterol: 50 mg
    Sugars: 49 g
    Sodium: 0 mg
    Protein: 14 g
    The deal:
    We all know that 49 grams of sugar -- again, more than a can of coke (39 grams) or a package of Twinkies (37 grams) -- is not healthful. And research shows that consuming sugar in beverages can be even more harmful to health than sugar in solid form. What's more, the 8 grams of saturated fat comprises almost halfthe recommended daily value.

    Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin 
    Spice Latte With Skim Milk

    Calories: 260
    Fat: .5 g
    Saturated Fat: 0 g 
    Sugars: 51 g
    Sodium: 0 mg
    Protein: 12 g
    The deal:
    If this drink is ordered in its healthiest iteration -- skim milk, no sugar or sweetener -- it can be a decent choice in terms of calories, fat and saturated fat. But with 51 grams of sugar, it's still a diet buster. What's more, since there's an option to add sugar on top of what's provided behind the counter, it can seem like you're making a healthy choice by abstaining from the extra, even though you aren't.

    Tim Horton's Small 

    Apple Cider Supreme

    Calories: 210
    Fat: 4 g
    Saturated Fat: 4 g 
    Sugars: 57 g
    Sodium: 15 mg
    Protein: 0 g
    The deal:While reasonable in calories and fat and saturated fat content, the 57 grams of sugar make this a bad choice.

    Panera's Bread's 

    Pumpkin Spice Latte

    Calories: 340
    Fat: 10g
    Saturated Fat: 6 g 
    Sugars: 46 g
    Sodium: 115 mg
    Protein: 7 g
    The deal:
    This drink has the same problems with sugar and fat as its counterparts at other chains, but it also has a surprising amount of salt -- in fact, at 115 milligrams, it accounts for 10 percent of a daily allowance.

    Jamba Juice Pumpkin 
    Smash Smothie

    Calories: 390
    Fat: 0 g
    Saturated Fat: 0 g
    Sugars: 75 g
    Sodium: 320 mg
    Protein: 10 g
    The deal:
    The lack of fat and saturated fat, coupled with a decent amount of protein, makes this smoothie attractive at first. But with 75 grams of sugar, it still packs a calorie-laden punch. An option to "make it light" reduces the calories to 260 and the sugar to 50 grams per 16-ounce cup.
    Source: HuffPost Healthy Living: Fall Coffee Drinks: Which Is Best: Calories, Nutrition and More

    Monday, October 6, 2014

    Prevent spread of new viruses through hand hygiene

    With the spread of the ebola virus and Enterovirus D68 in the news, and flu season just beginning, it is time to again focus on prevention of the spread of disease, especially through hand hygiene.
    At a press conference on ebola, Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), said “It’s a virus that’s easy to kill by washing your hands….”

    The CDC says hand hygiene is a simple thing and is the best way to prevent infection and illness in the workplace. While frequent hand washing is not a guarantee that employees won't become sick, it can certainly lessen the chances.
    A hand washing survey conducted by the Bradley Corporation revealed that the majority of Americans aren't washing their hands long enough. 57 percent of survey respondents estimate they wash for just 5 to 15 seconds. In fact, the CDC recommends washing hands for at least 20 seconds to allow enough time to remove and rinse away germs.
    Proper technique
    Speak with your facilities or maintenance staff to make sure your restrooms have plenty of liquid soap (not bars) and clean paper towels or are equipped with hot-air hand dryers.
    When washing hands with soap and water, CDC says employees should:
    • Wet hands with clean running water (warm water if available) and apply soap.
    • Rub hands together to make lather and scrub all surfaces. Pay particular attention to fingers, fingertips, and under fingernails where germs love to breed. Palms are heavy germ zones, too.
    • Continue rubbing hands for 15 seconds to 20 seconds. (This is about the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice.)
    • Rinse hands well under running water.
    • Dry hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If drying hands with a paper towel, use it to turn off the faucet.
    Hand sanitizers
    Also consider providing alcohol-based sanitizers in work areas throughout your facility so that employees can clean hands quickly and frequently without having to leave the work area. Alcohol-based hand rubs significantly reduce the number of germs on skin and are fast acting.
    The correct technique for using hand sanitizers is:
    • Apply product to the palm of one hand.
    • Rub hands together.
    • Rub the product over all surfaces of hands and fingers until hands are dry.

    Environmental microbiologist Charles Gerba, PhD, advises employers to train workers to think proactively about disease control. That means, unfortunately, assuming that everyone is potentially infectious, that the environment is germ- and virus-laden, that workers are not using the best personal hygiene practices, and that the maintenance crew is not doing its job.
    This makes the individual responsible for washing, wiping, and overall vigilance regarding their hands and their work area—and the spread of disease.