Are magazines in a doctor’s waiting room a good distraction or a germs best friend?
“You really don’t know what is on a magazine by looking at it,” said Dr. Robert Conrad, a Professor of Microbiology at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health & Sciences.
Dr. Conrad said that anything you can do avoid compromising your immune system is a good idea given that is cold and flu season.
“I would not want to handle something especially if you look around and others are coughing and sneezing,” said Dr. Conrad.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
, studies have shown human influenza viruses generally can survive on hard surfaces between two and eight hours
Dr. Conrad hasn’t conducted a study on the matter, but says patients should be proactive before they visit a waiting room.
“You don't want to take anything home with you that you didn't bring there,” said Dr. Conrad.
Some helpful hints to keep in mind before visiting a waiting room:
• Always wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after you visit a doctor’s office
• If you read a public magazine, avoid touching your face and wash your hands immediately after
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
• Routinely dispose of magazines in waiting rooms and your home
Dr. Conrad reiterated you can’t eliminate all of the germs and you can’t live in fear, but taking extra precautions during flu and cold season could help your health in the long run.
“Usually our immune systems can it, but use common sense and take precautions,” said Dr. Conrad.