The Truth About Germs and Why We Need Them

Germs are bad. That’s the lesson we had instilled in us since we were children. Whether that was to wash your hands thoroughly before you eat, touch anything or to always watch out for disease, we have been protecting ourselves from germs for years. Unfortunately, bacteria isn’t so simple that you can get rid of them with a little water and soap.

The reason we fear germs isn’t unfounded. There are thousands of diseases (and new ones being discovered) all around and some bacteria can harm or kill. That’s without mentioning those that can create pandemics as malaria and tuberculosis.

There are even bacteria that aren’t fatal but can spread out quickly like the norovirus, which causes stomach flu, and can stay in a person’s stool for up to two weeks.

Fear of bacteria and protecting ourselves against them has also increased exponentially in the last few years with the discovery that, as more medicaments are made to fight bacteria, germs can evolve and become immune to antibiotics or even grow from them.

That last part is also part of the reason why they are more complicated than people seem to think. While it’s true that we should protect against them, especially children who are still developing immunity against them, avoiding germs completely could have effects that are just as dangerous.

For example, while it’s true that babies and children can be infected quickly and need to gets shots to develop immunity to certain diseases such as measles, exposure to germs is also good for the body.

Not all bacteria can kill us or infect us, at most a part of them will just develop into colds or fevers, but most of them will probably do nothing. Being exposed to some germs also helps their bodies adapt and become immune faster than if they were protected at all times.

There’s undeniable proof of this too. A recent study in Sweden looked at how parents safeguarded their kids against germs and noticed that children that had their pacifiers sanitised tended to develop asthma or allergies more often than those whose pacifiers were cleaned through more reasonable means. So, you could say that the germs in their pacifier were not only harmless but also gave their body protection.

Now, don’t go and bathe in mud either. Not all bacteria are harmless, we’ve said that much earlier, and it is better to be vigilant around them. There are still cases of people contracting dangerous sickness just from being in contact with someone who had them.

However, you still shouldn’t freak out and lock yourself in a bubble just to protect yourselves from germs. If you want to stay on top of them then keeping up the habit of washing your hands with soap thoroughly and using hand sanitiser will take you a long way, keeping a small bottle with you at all times is also good in any tight situations.

So relax, get out of that bubble and enjoy the world, after all, getting a little dirty never hurt anyone right?

Photo Credits: Business Insider, Maharashtra Times


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