Antibiotic resistance is becoming a crisis in the United States, especially in hospitals. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 1.7 million patients acquire healthcare-associated infections, and many of these infections are deadly. But what can you do to stay safe from life-threatening bacteria? Here’s your quick guide.
Prevent Infection First
The best way to prevent infections is to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands before eating, after using the restroom, and before cooking. The CDC estimates that washing hands can prevent about 30% of diarrhea-related sickness and 20% of respiratory infections.
If you smoke, quit as soon as possible. Smoking encourages infection by slowing the healing process of wounds. Finally, if you are cut or scraped, make sure to clean and cover the wound. Even the smallest cut can become infected and escalate to a serious infection upon entering your bloodstream.
Don’t Fear Hospitals, But Be Smart
While healthcare-associated infections can be dangerous, so can avoiding appropriate treatments and regular checkups. As a patient, you can take smart steps to keep yourself infection-free: insist on clean hands from doctors and nurses. If they haven’t washed their hands in front of you, politely remind them.
According to the Scientific American, studies have suggested only about half of US healthcare workers properly keep their hands clean. If you’re hospitalized for surgery, you may want to ask how you will be kept warm during the procedure. Staying warm helps your body fight pathogens naturally.
Finally, ask about pre-surgery antibiotics, especially if you think you may have even a minor infection beforehand. Having an infection before surgery increases your likelihood of contracting a second, more serious infection.
Don’t Misuse Antibiotics
A huge reason antibiotic resistance is becoming a crisis in the United States is the misuse and overuse of antibiotics. If you are ever prescribed antibiotics, discuss it with your doctor. Make sure the treatment is absolutely necessary.
You may want to ask for tests to make sure you are prescribed the right one for your situation, too. Once you’re sure antibiotics are right for you, follow your doctor’s instructions. Never skip doses, and make sure you take doses for as long as you are directed.
Some people stop taking antibiotics when they feel better, instead of finishing the treatment. Even worse, they may save them for the next time they get sick. These habits increase the likelihood of creating antibiotic resistance and even superbugs.
If you take the time to make this guide a part of your lifestyle, you’ll minimize your risk of infections and sickness in general. Here’s to a bug-free life!