Infection Prevention Symptoms, Dangers & Control
Infections are more common than you think and if left untreated can be deadly. Get to know about infection prevention from your friendly emergency room doctors at Prestige ER.
Understanding what infections are and their impact on our health is crucial to raise awareness and motivate us to take the necessary precautions to avoid them.
Types of Infections
Infections occur when harmful microorganisms or pathogens enter our body and are able to reproduce and sustain themselves using our body’s resources, prompting a reaction.
Different microorganisms can cause infection; these are some of the most common pathogens:
How Do Infections Spread?
Most germs are harmless to humans, and some are actually beneficial to our health. However, there is a small portion of microorganisms that are harmful and are known to cause infections.
But how do they transmit?
The good news is that germs can’t move over long distances on their own. The bad news is that we inadvertently help harmful germs move, making it easier for them to enter our systems.
Transmission usually occurs through one of the following:
Germs can survive on surfaces for a while, so when we touch items like door handles, ATM pads, handrails, and seats in public transport, we could come in contact with a microorganism. These germs could enter our system if we touch our eyes, mouth, or nose with dirty hands.
Sprays and Splashes
Viruses can become airborne and infect others when a sick person sneezes or coughs, releasing droplets that contain the virus or germs. The force of a sneeze or cough could send these droplets flying up to 6-feet where they can land on another person or contaminate a surface.
Sometimes, germs become aerosolized into tiny particles; when this happens, they can travel great distances on air currents and end up contaminating a susceptible person or a surface.
Sometimes, the germs don’t need to move; they can live on sharp objects and enter our bodies when we accidentally cut or injure ourselves. This way, the pathogen enters our bloodstream directly and can cause serious harm.
Warning Signs of Infection
Infection symptoms vary depending on the type of infection and the body part it’s affecting, but these are some symptoms you need to look out for:
- Feeling tired or fatigued
- Chills and sweats
- Swollen lymph nodes (in the neck, armpits, or groin)
- Sore throat
- Red or white patches on the back of the throat
- Nasal congestion
- Shortness of breath
- New or worsening cough
- Burning sensation or pain when urinating
- Unusual vaginal discharge or vaginal irritation
- Redness, soreness, or swelling in any area, including cuts, scrapes, or surgical wounds
- Pus forming around or oozing from the wound
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal cramps
- Sensitivity to light
- Stiff neck
What Happens if You Don’t Treat an Infection and it Becomes Severe
Our body is surprisingly good at fighting off harmful germs, but sometimes it needs help. That is why it’s essential to seek medical attention at the first signs of infection.
If you have a bacterial infection, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics. However, if you have a viral infection, then your doctor will prescribe antiviral medications.
However, if you don’t treat your infection on time, it can spread to other parts of your body and cause sepsis, an extreme and potentially life-threatening immune response to an infection.
Sepsis is also known as blood poisoning and can cause dire health consequences, including organ failure and death.
Sepsis is a medical emergency that needs immediate attention.
Signs and Symptoms of Sepsis
Warnings signs may include:
- High fever and drastic body temperature changes
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Breathing difficulties
- A decline in cognitive abilities, which may include confusion, sudden memory problems, and extreme fatigue
How to Prevent Infections
There is no single way to prevent infections. However, there are ways for us to minimize contagion and transmission rates:
- Wash your hands often
- Clean high contact surface areas regularly
- Wash fruits and vegetables before eating them
- Don’t leave food out for extended periods. Instead, store perishable goods at the appropriate temperature
- Get your COVID-19 vaccine to reduce the risk of severe illness
- Get your annual flu vaccine
- Avoid sharing eating utensils, and glasses, and personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes, razor blades
- Maintain a physical distance of at least 6-feet when out in public
- Follow an active and healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a balanced diet to help keep your immune system healthy
Infections might be common, but they can also be dangerous. If your condition worsens or you think you may have sepsis, please don’t delay; go to the nearest ER immediately. Early intervention is the key to saving lives.
Prestige ER has two convenient locations in Plano and Mesquite and is available 24/7 to treat all your medical emergencies.
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