How to be healthy and prevent diseases

There are many things you can do to stay healthy. Learn how to prevent the spread of diseases and infections. Read about the importance of sleeping and how to stop smoking.

children and parents in health clinic

Wash your hands

Hand-washing is the most important thing you can do keep you and your family healthy. This is because many germs that cause illnesses are spread by hand contact.

Make sure you wash your hands after you sneeze or cough, before preparing food, after you use the toilet, after you touch a sick person, after you handle garbage or fecal matter, and after you touch an animal.

You can learn more about how to wash your hands correctly.

Take care of your teeth

Taking care of your mouth and teeth is important for avoiding health problems. Doctors recommend that you brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. You should also visit the dental hygienist at your dentist’s office every six months to have your teeth cleaned and checked. You can read about how to take care of your mouth and teeth.

Prevent the spread of colds and flu

Certain illnesses, like a cold or flu, spread easily between people.

There are three important things you can do to protect other people from catching your cold or flu are:

  1. covering your nose when you sneeze
  2. covering your mouth when you cough
  3. washing your hands every time you sneeze and cough

Learn more about how to prevent the spread of flu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  is a government agency which gives advice about how to stay healthy. The CDC has information about how to prevent the spread of disease at home, work, school, and in public.

Head lice

Head lice are tiny bugs that live on human heads. They survive by feeding on blood from the top of your head, causing an intensely itchy and irritated feeling. Lice can spread very easily from person to person and are a very common problem among children. (Lice frequently spread where there are groups of children, for example at a school.)

If you or your child have lice, it is not a sign of poor cleanliness. However, you will have to take certain steps in order to make sure the problem goes away. Learn more about head lice.


Similar to lice, bedbugs are tiny bugs that bite humans, causing itchiness and severe irritation on the skin around the bite. Unlike lice, bedbugs live primarily in furniture and clothing.

Bedbugs can spread very easily between people, so it’s important to be aware of how to prevent them. You can learn about the signs of bedbugs and how to control the problem. The information is in many languages.

Sleeping habits

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for your physical and mental health. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.

Developing healthy sleeping habits

Here are some tips for healthy sleeping:

  • Exercise every day.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Follow a bed time ritual.
  • Avoid bright lights at night time.
  • Avoid heavy food at night time.
  • Read a book.
  • Turn off electronic devices like your phone and computer an hour or two before going to bed.
  • You know what works best for you, so follow your own guidance!

Read the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s advice about healthy sleeping.

Sleep for kids

It is very important for children to get a good night’s sleep. Children need more sleep than adults. It is particularly important for their physical and mental development. You and your children can read sleep tips from the National Sleep Foundation. When you make sure your kids get enough sleep, you are preparing them to do better in school. At the same time that you are helping them to develop life-long healthy habits.

You will be surprised about the difference it makes to get enough sleep! Don’t forget to spread the word in your community about the benefits of sleeping.

How to stop smoking

People start smoking for different reasons. Many countries don’t provide information on the harmful effect of smoking and therefore smoking is a common practice. Whatever your reason was for starting to smoke, quitting will be beneficial to your health. Smoking leads to cancer and other serious illnesses.

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body. It is the leading cause of preventable death. Smoking increases your risks to develop the following conditions:

  • asthma and secondhand smoke
  • cancer
  • gum disease
  • diabetes
  • risks during pregnancy
  • stroke
  • heart disease
  • lung diseases

Quitting smoking is hard for everyone. The longer you have smoked, the harder it is! This is because smoking is addictive. You do not have to do it alone. Tell your doctor about your interest in quitting to get help, such as a pill or a patch that will help make the process easier. Learn about smoking and how to quit from the CDC.

Products to help stop smoking include:

  • nicotine gum
  • nicotine patches
  • electronic cigarettes (although these have health risks, too)

Note: Are you enrolled in Medicaid? If you are, anything that helps you stop smoking will be covered under your health insurance plan. Many private plans will also cover these aids.