I can’t believe how over-the-top people have become about sanitizing. There are now so many products capitalizing on this obsession, it boggles the mind. There are many different brands of hand sanitizer goop, sanitizer wipes, sanitizer sprays, notices plastered all over to get you to constantly wash your hands. It’s amazing, and in the long run, very bad! Why you ask?
Our immune system is a wonderful thing. It protects us from disease 24×7, both preventing sickness before it can take hold, and quickly quashing sickness once it does take hold. However, it’s very much like the muscles in your body. It needs exercise in order to be effective. Each time your body is exposed to bacteria, your immune system analyzes it and comes up with a defense system customized for that particular bacteria strain. Over time, you end up with a large catalog of these defense “packages” which get deployed without your knowledge, effectively fighting off infection and illness. Small children don’t have much of a “catalog”, which is why they tend to get sick a lot. As the years go by, their catalog improves, and they tend to get sick less and less (except in the cases where there is an underlying health issue).
One of the biggest disservice we can do for kids is to over-protect them with all these crazy sanitizer products and rabid obsession over germs. If we are effective in protecting them from exposure to said germs, then their catalog of defenses will not develop properly. In 20 years or so, we’ll end up with a society full of young adults who have limited immune systems, and are easily knocked off their feet by bacteria which should have little or no effect.
This is less of an issue for adults, but still, adults need to keep their immune systems healthy and fit too!
Now, I’m not advocating that it’s not wise to take simple precautions like hand-washing or sneezing into a handkerchief when there is some kind of illness going on. The flu is certainly a real pain, and in some cases dangerous. What I am saying is that we need a little reality-check here. Going overboard on germ killing won’t make you healthier, it will have the opposite effect.
I can’t wait for the class-action suits when people with lousy immune systems gang up on the hand-sanitizer folks, and make a quick buck.