Could Your Infection Be MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphulococcis Aureus)?

September 14, 2010

With all the headlines about increasingly antibiotic resistant bacteria, an infection is something to worry about (ray of hope for antibiotics: insect brains may contain a new source of antibiotics). MRSA is one of the more troublesome antibiotic-resistant strains–it’s no longer just found in public places like hospitals, but might be caught from an normal, around the home knee-scrape. It’s important to know how to prevent, recognize, and care for an MRSA Staph infection.

Any break in the skin is a risk for contracting an infection such as MRSA, but staph infection is also the culprit behind other internal infections, such as heart infections, respiratory infections like pneumonia, as well as more serious bone and blood infections. Generally, there are two important steps to preventing infection: practicing good hygiene, and ensuring you support a strong immune system.

Although studies have shown that living in a germ-free bubble does your germ immunity no favors, a distinction must be made between over-using hand sanitizer and the advances in hygiene that have decreased child mortality and generally improved the success rate of medicine over the last few centuries. Play in the dirt when you will, but it’s important to wash hands (with soap) before eating, touching the face or a an open wound, after going to the bathroom, and after being in a public place (like a metro, doctor’s office, or gym). It’s also important to wash hands frequently if you are sick/injured, to avoid spreading germs to others, or to other parts of your body if you have a sore or blister.

Although this all seems like common sense, and may be to anyone interested enough in their health to do extra research, studies repeatedly find that although nearly everyone says they wash hands, only about 75% of women and 60% of men do.

If you have a cough, be sure to cough into your elbow and away from others and food. If you’re feeling really sick, try to arrange to stay at home, both to avoid spreading disease to others and to allow yourself rest.

Keeping your immune system strong by allowing yourself enough rest, eating nutritiously, and exercising is another key part of infection prevention. Further, if you already have a weakened immune system due to a chronic illness, age, or medication, not only are you at an increased risk for infection, but for a more severe infection. If you feel the need to supplement your immune system, look for natural antibiotics that can be applied topically to cuts, as well as supplements designed to target the immune system.

Even if you’re healthy and thoughtful about taking care of yourself, the real danger of an MRSA infection is that it so easily infects everyone. For that reason, know the signs of an infection, and treat every infection with equal care, as only a lab test can determine the exact bacteria causing the infection.

Infection Symptoms (Skin):

  • Redness. A wound may be red even if it isn’t infected, due to inflammation (your body fighting pathogens and healing). However, if after a couple of days of proper care the wound remains red, you should begin to suspect infection and see a doctor.
  • Heat & Pain. Heat may also be attributed to inflammation, but if the area hurts, especially to the touch, it is probably infected.
  • Swelling & Pus. An area may swell because there is pus trapped under the skin. If this is the case, the pus should be immediately removed and the area kept clean of it (see a doctor). Pus is a sure sign of bacterial infection.

If you have a serious infection, or are at an increased risk because of age or other health concerns, be certain to see a doctor immediately if you suspect infection. Keep the area clean, change bandages at least daily, and use an appropriate ointment, or a natural antibiotic. Even if it’s a small external infection, treat yourself the same way you would if you had a cold, and take extra care–this is a great way to help your body heal quicker.

For more specific infection symptoms and care, (ear, heart, lungs…) you should look up symptoms by suspected disease or body part (try our handy keyword cloud to the right–can’t find it? Post what you’re looking for in the comments and we’ll get an article on it in the next few weeks).

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