March 19, 2019 by John Fernandez
Health-Related Spring Cleaning Tips (Infographic)
When it comes to your health, “spring cleaning” should go far beyond just clearing out a year’s worth of clutter from overpacked closets, the garage and other areas.
The Florida Department of Health recommends several important health-related tips to ensure your home is free of harmful elements in the air and on surfaces. For example, a simple solution to clearing the air: Replace the filters in your air-conditioning units. And then there’s the medicine cabinet, which can harbor long-expired prescription meds or over-the-counter pain relievers or other remedies.
Paul Gipps, M.D., a geriatrician and internal medicine physician with Baptist Health Primary Care in Pinecrest, tells his patients, if a previously prescribed medication is expired, it’s best to check with your doctor to see if you need a refill. Then, you can rest assure that you’re getting the safest, most effective dosage for your needs.
“It really depends on the type of medication we’re talking about,” said Dr. Gipps. “Most over-the-counter medications maintain their potency and likely have a longer shelf life than their expiration date indicates.”
Federal law requires drug manufacturers to list a date at which they can no longer guarantee a drug’s effectiveness. Many drug makers, then, take a conservative approach to labeling, meaning that most meds stay effective well after their stated dates. But Dr. Gipps says it’s best not to take chances and replaced expired prescription drugs.
Here are the Florida Health Department’s top tips for a healthy spring cleaning (see infographic below by Irina de Souza ):
Clear your home of air contaminants. Thoroughly dust your home and clean or replace air conditioning and heating filters; clean all ducts and vents to decrease your exposure to pollen and other airborne allergens.
Organize your medicine cabinet. Discarding expired medications and old prescription medications no longer in use. Your pharmacist can advise you about the best way to dispose of old medications
Make hygiene in the kitchen a priority. Clean kitchens can reduce your risk of foodborne diseases. Wash your hands before cooking and after cooking. Keep preparation surfaces clean and use separate cutting boards and cutlery for raw meats and vegetables to avoid cross – contamination.
Complete needed home repairs. Fix plumbing leaks or (hidden) water damage as quickly as you can to prevent mold from growing. You may also want to inspect outdoor playground equipment and be sure that it remains sturdy and in good repair. Pay particular attention to guardrails, protruding bolts and other potential sources of injury.
Test your home for radon. Radon is a colorless and odorless radioactive gas. And you can’t taste it. Radon, a carcinogen, is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year (one every 25 minutes). In Florida, one in five homes tested has elevated radon levels. Learn how to test your home at Radon.FloridaHealth.gov.
Infographic by Irina de Souza