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Germ Theory - Discovery, History and New Developments in Health

Copyright (c) 2006-2019

Healthcare workers and others use medical gloves to help prevent the transmission of disease and infections. However, it was not that long ago in the history of mankind that the idea of using medical gloves to prevent the transmission of diseases was unheard of.


The Advance of Medical Science

Science has advanced rapidly over the last 100 years and there have been many amazing discoveries made, particularly in the area of healthcare and health issues. Just 100 years ago, it was not uncommon for the general public to believe that people became afflicted with disease because they angered the gods, or because of their sins. Some even believed illness was the result of curses placed upon them by others. Even today, in some third-world countries, illnesses are still believed to be the result of sins and curses.

The years between 1879 and 1900 are frequently referred to as the "germ revolution". This is the point in history when medical science began to advance to the point where doctors began to discover the role of germs in illness and disease, and they began to fully comprehend the modes of disease transmission.

When people could not see something, touch it, taste it, smell it, etc. they assumed that it did not exist. Prior to the use of microscopes, germs and microorganisms remained unknown to the public and scientists. In fact, it was commonly believed by scientists that diseases were spontaneously generated from non-living things.

The discovery of the germ theory and of microorganisms has been hailed as the most important discovery in medicine, and possibly the most important discovery for mankind as a whole. Many scientists are cited with discovering various parts of the germ theory. Ignaz Semmelweis in the 1840's found that hand washing helped to prevent the spread of childbirth fever and hand washing slowly became a standard practice for healthcare workers prior to examining patients, medical gloves had not yet been considered as an alternative. By far though, the most notable scientist is Louis Pasteur in the 1860's. With his discovery of the fermentation process he was able to completely disprove the idea of spontaneous generation of diseases.

Joseph Lister utilized the information discovered by Semmelweis and Pasteur to develop antiseptic surgery in the late 1860's. This included the cleaning of medical instruments and the improved sterilization of exam rooms.

After the discovery of germs and proof that germs did in fact transmit diseases, people slowly started accepting the fact that improved hygiene and isolation of infected patients can help prevent the transmission of diseases. Some practices that were undertaken by healthcare professionals and the general public alike, included such things as covering their mouth when they cough, covering their face and mouth when sneezing, frequent hand washing, and ultimately the use of medical gloves.


How the Discovery of Germ Theory Has Improved Medical Care

The first mention of medical gloves was in 1889, but only for surgical procedures. It is hard to imagine that doctors and nurses performed medical procedures without exam gloves prior to this time. Since medical gloves started being used on a widespread basis, the rate of infection and patient mortality has decreased a great deal.

Times sure have changed since the discovery of the germ theory. Today you cannot go into any medical office, hospital, nursing home, etc. without seeing healthcare workers utilizing medical exam gloves to help reduce the spread of infections and germs. Today medical examination gloves are so common that many people, who are not healthcare workers, also have access to medical gloves on their job. This can include postal employees, police officers, teachers, etc.

Particularly since the discovery of HIV, people have started using medical examination gloves if there is even a remote possibility that they will come into contact with bodily fluids, especially blood. All conventional healthcare practitioners today are utilizing medical exam gloves while caring for patients. The risk of infecting a patient, or being infected by a patient, is simply too high to not use medical gloves.


Germs Can Play A Positive Role In Our Lives Too

Many healthcare experts today suggest that we have gone overboard with protecting ourselves from germs and their negative affects. Nowadays, people are very vigilant with hand washing and using antibacterial products to keep from getting germs. Some people even suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder because they worry about germs so much. Have you ever seen the television show Monk?

How could we have gone overboard with our fight against germs? Medical experts tell us that our immune systems are becoming weakened because of our lack of exposure to germs. Our immune systems are not getting mild infections as often, and therefore, our bodies do not fight off illness as well when we do get infections. An immune system that has had no prior exposure to mild infections would have a tough time fighting off a major infection. This is why many doctors are hesitant to prescribe medications for minor infections today. It is often better for our body to battle these infections on their own, without the assistance of pharmaceuticals.


Keeping A Proper Balance Between Germ Acceptance and Self Protection

Of course this newer germ theory does not mean that we should not use medical gloves in healthcare. However, we should be aware that we do not need antibiotics to take care of every minor infection or illness that we suffer from. In fact, not using antibiotics for some infections helps our bodies to become healthier in the long run and to cope with future, more severe, infections.

Medical gloves, sterilization, and hand washing are still critically important to prevent the unneeded spread of diseases and infections. These methods have been proven to dramatically increase the success rates of surgeries and examinations, and to improve the overall health of people.


About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
Davin Abernathy writes about medical equipment and medical management. DonTheGlove.com is the online division of Handgards Inc, a 45 year old company specializing in medical exam gloves. Don The Glove also produces several kinds of latex free exam gloves. If you thought this article was helpful, you may explore additional articles at: http://www.dontheglove.com/

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Last Distribution Date:
2006-07-18 11:36:00

Internal ID: #3172





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