How to prevent the most common infections

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1. Overview


Infection-causing bacteria and viruses harmful to the body can be contacted from various places, from hospital wards to a neighbor’s hand. These infections are almost impossible to avoid completely, but anyone can try their prevention by using various methods.

In this article you can find information about:
- Prevention of contracting HIV – HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, a condition in which a person’s immune system is affected resulting in multiple manifestation (from pneumonia to weight loss). Infection is viral and can be controlled through medication to prevent the development of AIDS.

- Prevention of antibiotic-associated colitis – This type of colitis can occur after a person uses antibiotics to cure an infection. Clostridium difficile bacteria multiply rapidly and release toxins in the intestines, causing diarrhea and intestinal cramps.

- Prevention of E. Coli – This is a bacterial infection that affects the intestines. It may be caused by ingestion of contaminated food and water. Consumption of washed fruits and vegetables and meat preparation at appropriate temperatures can help prevent this unpleasant infection.

- Prevention of necrotizing fasciitis – This is a condition usually caused by group A streptococcus, the same bacteria that causes other streptococcal infections. The disease affects the skin and soft tissues, which will be covered by blisters filled with dark liquid. Untreated, it can cause toxic shock.

- Prevention of nosocomial infections or hospital acquired infections – This infection can affect people with weakened immune systems and may contribute to more serious health problems than the one for which a person is hospitalized.


Contents

1. Overview
2. Prevention of AIDS
3. Prevention of colitis
4. Prevention of E. Coli
5. Prevention of necrotizing fasciitis
6. Prevention of nosocomial infections or hospital acquired infections


2. Prevention of AIDS

Immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS is caused by a viral infection (HIV), which can negatively influence and can wreak havoc on the immune system of the body.

Preventive measures against HIV

HIV is not transmitted by touching the same surfaces previously touched by a sick person by embracing it or tears, or through a closed mouth kiss (according to available scientific evidence, the risk of HIV transmission even with a open mouth kiss is quite low).

There are also ways a person can protect themselves from this virus:
- Protected intercourse, monogamous relationship in which partners were tested and does not suffer from this disease.
- Avoid using hygiene objects that can come in contact with the blood of a person (toothbrush, razor or other such items)
- Making tattoos or piercing with sterile disposable needle
- Use of sterile disposable syringes and needles.

Pregnant women should be tested for HIV. If the test is positive, the doctor will recommend the use of drugs that can reduce the chance of passing HIV to the baby. Also, patients diagnosed with HIV must inform sexual partners about HIV diagnosis.


3. Prevention of colitis

Antibiotics may cause the development of colitis called pseudomembranous colitis and Clostridium difficile colitis; this can be a painful bacterial infection that will occur in the intestines. Symptoms may be present as diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever.

Those who have high chances of having colitis are aged over 60 years, are using colitis-associated antibiotics because they are more susceptibility to have in their intestines C. difficile spores. In the same category fall ill with weakened immune systems but also those hospitalized.

Preventive measures against colitis

The best way a person can protect from antibiotics that develop colitis is to stay healthy and avoid bacterial infections to avoid having to use antibiotics. This means to maintain a good hand hygiene, to adopt a balanced diet, to make daily physical activity and to use multivitamin (only if necessary).

Also, antibiotics should be used only according to a doctor’s recommendation, in order not to decrease resistance to certain bacteria. In people with good health, the need to take colitis–associated antibiotics is lower, so the chances to manifest colitis are also lower.

Bacteria clostridium difficile’s spores can survive in feces of a person, so after each use of the toilet or handling nappies children or the elderly, wash hands carefully. This disease is common in hospitals.

It is important to be kept under control by using a disinfectant gel when the patient’s health condition does not allow thorough washing of hands. In order to prevent the disease it is also advisable to take antibiotics according to a doctor’s recommendation.


4. Prevention of E. Coli

People who suffer from E. coli can develop an acute hemorrhagic colitis that causes severe abdominal pain and diarrhea, among other symptoms. E. coli or Escherichia coli is one of the bacteria that is normally found in the gut and is excreted through bowel movements.

The O 157 strain is not normally found in the intestine of an individual and will adversely affect the health of those who will not treat it. Any person who suspects it should ask his doctor to recommend specific investigations to detect it.

Preventive measures against E. coli

Undercooked beef or consumption of vegetables (lettuce, cabbage, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers), alfalfa and various contaminated fruit could lead to contacting and manifestation of the disease.

The risk of developing E. coli can be reduced by following some simple actions:
- Frequent hand washing (especially if the family includes young children who are learning to use the toilet – they should be instructed to wash their hands as often as possible);
- Avoid touching animals while visiting the zoo, especially by children;
- Proper and sufficient preparation and cooking beef to at least 160 degrees (the infected meat will not taste or smell weird and the bacteria cannot be detected);
- Maintain cleaning and carefully wash surfaces and utensils that have been used for preparing or which made contact with raw meat;
- Pasteurized products consumption. Avoid milk and unpasteurized fruit and vegetables juices whose consumption is not considered safe.
- Any fruit or vegetable should be washed thoroughly with water (especially leaf lettuce, alfalfa) before becoming part of a person’s menu.

However, the very young people, the elderly or those with compromised immunity or low should not consume any fruit or raw vegetables that cannot be cleaned properly or which are not pasteurized.


5. Prevention of necrotizing fasciitis

Painful and potentially lethal, this condition develops after contacting and infection with a bacterium that attacks the skin and soft tissues. In general, the condition is triggered by group A streptococcus (Streptococcus pyogenes), but there are other combinations of aerobic or anaerobic bacteria that could cause this illness.

Bacteria that cause necrotizing fasciitis can enter the body through inhalation of infected droplets in the respiratory route, such as those released during a cough or sneeze or can be contacted through a surgical incision, but also after a minor injury, such as a cut with a piece of paper.

Bacteria multiply rapidly and destroy skin and the soft tissue, including fascia, fibrous skin tissue that surrounds muscles. At the onset, necrotizing fasciitis causes symptoms similar to the flu, accompanied by severe pain in the affected area. After a day or two destructive bacterial action is obvious: the tissue is inflamed, dark and black fluid-filled blisters appear on the affected area. Then the pain disappears as nerves are destroyed.

If the disease progresses, it can lead to low blood pressure and even shock of the entire body, due to toxins released by bacteria. Infected person must require immediate hospitalization and receiving intravenous antibiotics; in addition to all these, surgical removal of affected tissue is necessary. Therefore, it is recommended that since the first signs of the condition to contact the doctor.

Preventive measures against necrotizing fasciitis

The best way of protection is to avoid contact with the bacteria that cause this disease. This involves carefully washing hands, maintaining distance of people who have symptoms of sore throat (especially those with streptococcal group A) and those with various injuries.

When a person’s skin is injured, it will be washed with soap and warm water and it will apply an antibiotic ointment. Do not break the crust that will appear on the wound. It is also important to institute treatment during the early stage of the disease. If the lesion is red, swollen or infected, you must require medical treatment. Timely intervention can save a person’s life.


6. Prevention of nosocomial infections or hospital acquired infections

It may seem ironic when a person whose goal is to cure by a disease instead to contact other disease where he expected to receive health care. Several different of bacteria, viruses and fungi are responsible for nosocomial or hospital infections.

Most often such infections are caused by Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli. These bacteria can be reached by the misused of catheters, breathing tubes and even latex gloves.

Medical personnel can spread a disease if not follow a strict hygiene, do not change gloves every time consult another patient, if ventilation or water systems are contaminated. However, developing an infection in the hospital does not mean that some actions were inappropriate.

Urinary tract infections, wounds infections, blood flow infections and pneumonia are most often transmitted in hospitals. Nosocomial infections are common for a variety of reasons:
- Many ill people are present in the hospital;
- People hospitalized have not a strong immune system and can easily contact new infections.

Preventive measures against nosocomial infections or hospital infections

Experts believe that at least a third of hospital-acquired infections can be avoided.

- Any patient should wash their hands or at least use a disinfectant gel after using the toilet or object on which some germs could be present. Infections can be contacted by bedding, sanitary or medical instruments that are not sterile;

- Each person should ask his doctor or nurse if their hands are clean;

- If the patient has a wound or injury, he must wear clean dry dressing. He must announce the doctor or nurse immediately if it becomes wet or weeping;

- The catheter should be kept clean and dry. If the tube is deployed for various reasons, inform medical staff;

- If a patient suffering from other diseases than from that which was admitted – diabetes, for example, must bring this to the attention of a doctor or nurse;

- Comply with instructions and recommendations of the doctor;

- People who visit the patient must be healthy.

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