As a registered nurse who also has been affected by Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES), I have many of the same concerns that we all have during the current COVID pandemic and influenza season. As individuals living with CES, regular handwashing is the best way to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). Washing your hands often, especially when we are likely to get and spread germs, is the most critical measure to help prevent COVID and other usual germs (Haston et al., 2020).
A US Adult internet survey showed that one out of four people does not wash their hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing their noses. Fewer than 75% of respondents reported remembering to wash their hands after having respiratory virus symptoms or eating. Research shows that men, young adults ages 18 to 24 years old, and white adults are less likely to remember to wash their hands regularly (Haston et al., 2020).
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is preferred over soap and water in most situations due to the fact that it is readily available (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020a). Alcohol-based hand sanitizer kills most of the harmful germs and does not create antibiotic-resistant superbugs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020b).
The CDC recommends these critical situations where we should clean our hands, either with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020b):
Cauda Equina Syndrome can cause us to have frequent urinary tract infections. The involved nerves may affect the bladder, bowel, and genital areas, and many of us require regular invasive procedures for this reason (Wiseman, 2021). Before completing any urinary or bowel tasks, such as straight catheterization or a bowel program, hand washing or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be completed. Handwashing with soap and water should be done after the task, as hand sanitizer does not kill the germs that cause severe diarrhea (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020b).
Please, stay safe, perform regular hand washing or sanitizing, and “Speak Up for Clean Hands” to remind those around you to do the same (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020b).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020a, February 13). Hand hygiene guidance | hand hygiene | cdc. https://www.cdc.gov/handhygiene/providers/guideline.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020b, February 13). Patients | hand hygiene | cdc. https://www.cdc.gov/handhygiene/patients/index.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, October 15). Handwashing - clean hands save lives | cdc. https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/index.html
Haston, J. C., Miller, G. F., Berendes, D., Andújar, A., Marshall, B., Cope, J., Hunter, C. M., Robinson, B. M., Hill, V. R., & Garcia-Williams, A. G. (2020). Characteristics associated with adults remembering to wash hands in multiple situations before and during the covid-19 pandemic — United States, October 2019 and June 2020. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 69(40), 1443–1449. https://doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6940a2
Wiseman, D. (2021). Cauda equina syndrome – symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatments. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Cauda-Equina-Syndrome