How to Protect Yourself and Your Family From Infections

picIn this modern day and age, it seems crazy to think that infections could run rampant, particularly in the Western world. However, even though science has made us more aware than ever of the risks of infections, and some of the most common causes and ways to stave them off, many people still get very sick or even die because of infections each year.

Many of these issues arise from public places such as hospitals, and from procedures which we would think are very safe. As reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on any given day around 1 in every 25 hospital patients has at least one health care–associated infection.

In addition, take a look at recent warnings issued by the CDC on an infection risk warning about the LivaNova Stockert 3T heater-cooler device. According to reports, the device (which is used to keep a heart patient’s circulating blood and organs at a set temperature after open-heart surgery) poses the risk of serious bacterial infection, due to possible contamination of the device. It is used in approximately 60 percent of the more than quarter of a million heart bypass procedures completed in the U.S. each year.

While these types of warnings, and news of other infection issues and outbreaks, can be incredibly alarming, there are things you can do to help keep yourself and your loved ones healthy. Read on for some practical ways to stay infection-free today.

Wash Hands Regularly

It may be an incredibly simple tip, but it’s one that a surprisingly large number of people don’t regularly follow: washing your hands. Hand-washing is actually one of the most important ways for infections to be prevented, yet many people of all ages, as well as far too many health care workers and hospital visitors, don’t abide by it.

pic-2Keep in mind that microbes can live on inert surfaces (such as doorknobs, light switches, computer keyboards, phones, crosswalk buttons, and the like) for minutes up to months. As a result, you can pick up germs from many different places without realizing. Touching your hands to your eyes, mouth, or nose afterwards is also a very common way that germs enter the body.

To prevent infection, it is vital that you wash your hands thoroughly and vigorously for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Afterwards, make sure you dry your hands properly too. It is especially important that you clean your hands before and after you prepare any food, eat anything, or use the toilet.

Furthermore, when you’re a patient in a hospital or other medical clinic, keep an eye on the habits of doctors, nurses, and other practitioners. They should always clean their hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer or soap and water before they examine you or administer any treatment or medication.

Increase Healthy Habits and Ditch Harmful Ones

If you want to avoid getting an infection, particularly if you will be having surgery, you must keep your immunity levels as high as possible so that the chance of infection is decreased. You can boost your immunity by adopting good health habits and ditching harmful ones. For starters, make sure that you eat well and get enough sleep. Regular exercise is another healthy habit to rev up in your life.

Smoking, on the other hand, is something that you really need to either quit or at the very least cut down on significantly, particularly before any surgical procedure. While you probably already know about many of the various risks involved in smoking, you may not realize that puffing on cigarettes can also reduce the ability of your lungs to clear your blood of carbon dioxide and provide it with oxygen.

When this ability is lowered, many of the cells in the skin which are responsible for healing wounds become less efficient because they’re deprived of much-needed, oxygen-rich blood. As a result, your body will take longer to close wounds, and this will give bacteria and other bugs more time to get inside your body and play havoc.

Don’t Share Personal Items

Lastly, another habit you should get into if you want to stave off infections and other illnesses is to never share personal items with others. For example, keep your toothbrush, razor, comb, handkerchiefs, towels, nail clippers, and the like to yourself, and don’t use anybody else’s. These items can be rife with infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Kitchenware items such as drinking glasses, cutlery, bowls, and so on should also not be shared if you want to stop the spread of nasties.