It’s something we do without really thinking about it—leafing through a magazine while we wait for our turn at the doctor’s clinic.
But it may be a good idea to resist that habit. Instead, pop your own magazine or book into your handbag and carry it along if you know you are going to have to wait for a while. Take a pen along and use it for filling out any forms you might be asked to—take little precautions that can save you from an unnecessary illness.
Think about it: the doctor’s clinic is a place where people with various illnesses come. Patients bring with them an assortment of germs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cold and flu bacteria can survive for up to 8 hours on hard surfaces.
What about other bacteria? Researchers in Germany tested four strains of pathogens, including E. coli and staph bacteria, and found that all strains survived on a paper surface. ”Most of the tested pathogens were quite stable on paper for up to 72 hours,” state the authors — that’s three full days. The researchers managed to cultivate germs from the same sheet of paper seven days after the bacteria was first spread on the surface.
Although it might be unfair to put the blame all on magazines. In the German study, the bacteria clung to mostly uncoated paper. Coated paper (which includes most magazines) adsorbs and absorbs less bacteria, note the authors.
Even so, the researchers recommend practicing stringent hygiene, especially when in a health care setting.
If you do decide to look through the reading material, remember not to touch your face until you have had the chance to wash your hands thoroughly. You don’t want those germs hitching a free ride up to your nose and giving you the flu!