How to Prevent Bacterial Infections

Wednesday 28 July 2021
Infections
4 minute(s) read

Table of Contents


I. Understanding Germs

II. Common Bacterial Infections

a. Bacterial Chest Infections

b. Sexually Transmitted Bacterial Infections

c. Bacterial Skin Infections

III. Avoiding Transmission

IV. Handwashing and Hygiene

V. Nutritional Diet


Understanding Germs

Germs are everywhere; germs can be found in the air, on plant and animal surfaces, in soil and water, and on just about any surface you can think of. Beginning in childhood, most people are taught that germs are bad, and they can cause illnesses. While this is partially true, most germs don’t harm the human body. However, certain germs can try to break past your immune system’s defenses. When this occurs, an infection may take place. [1]

Common Bacterial Infections

Bacteria are tiny, microscopic organisms that can be beneficial or harmful. Beneficial bacteria help with digestion and can defend the body against certain diseases. When it comes to bacterial infections, harmful bacteria are the culprit. They can damage the body’s cells and lead to tuberculosis, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and strep throat.

Before modern medicine, bacterial infections were often life-threatening. Nowadays, antibiotics that stop the growth of bacteria can be prescribed to stop the infection before it gets serious. If you are diagnosed, your doctor may prescribe levofloxacin or retapamulin to treat bacterial infections or Keflex (cephalexin) for respiratory infections. [1] Read on to learn about common types of bacterial infections and how you can prevent them from occurring.

a man wearing a mask, overlooking a bay

a. Bacterial Chest Infections

If harmful bacterial droplets are inhaled into the lungs, a respiratory infection can occur. Signs that you may have a chest infection include shortness of breath, phlegm when you cough, wheezing, and thick mucus. A weakened immune system makes it more likely to develop a bacterial chest infection. [2]

b. Sexually Transmitted Bacterial Infections

Bacteria pass through bodily fluids such as blood or semen, so sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be acquired through sexual activity with an infected person. Common STIs include syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Symptoms of an STI include painful urination, discharge from the penis, or vaginal bleeding. [3] 

c. Bacterial Skin Infections

Bacteria can get in the body through cuts on the skin and cause bacterial skin infections. Infections that remain on the surface are easily treated with antibiotic creams. Infections that start deeper inside the wound may require more treatment. If you have pus leaking from a wound, swelling, or sores that form near the site of the injury, you may have a bacterial skin infection. [4]

handwashing

Avoiding Transmission

The main cause of bacterial infections is human-to-human transmission, so anything you can do to avoid transmission will decrease your risk. You can avoid catching an infection by taking the following steps:

  • Stay away from sick people: If you know someone with a bacterial infection, avoid contact with them as much as possible. Shaking hands or touching an infected person can significantly increase the risk of transmission.
  • Discard used tissues: Using a tissue can help reduce the risk of transmission, but keeping used tissues around can lead to bacterial growth around you. Keep tissues handy wherever you go, but make sure to throw them out and wash your hands after use.
  • Ensure healthcare providers wear gloves: Doctors, nurses, and dentists come into contact with many different people and even more viruses and bacteria. Make sure they are wearing clean gloves before they treat you.
  • Prevent transmitting to others: Our health and the health of our community are interdependent. If you are sick, staying home and avoiding others can keep those around you healthy and make sure the bacteria doesn’t re-infect you. [5]

Handwashing and Hygiene

Good hygiene starts with proper handwashing practices. Keeping the following in mind when washing your hands can make sure harmful bacteria are kept at bay:

  • Use soap and warm water
  • Rub your hands well for a minimum of 15 seconds
  • Wash all areas of the hands, including your palms, fingernails, the back of your hands, and the areas in between your fingers
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before touching, eating, or preparing food
  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom, visiting a sick person, taking out the trash, or playing with a pet 

a hand holding a spray bottle

Good personal hygiene also means keeping personal items to yourself. Sharing towels, combs, or clippers can make transmission more likely. Brushing your teeth twice a day and taking daily showers can also lower your risk. [5]

Nutritional Diet

Harmful bacteria have an easier time entering weaker immune systems, so it is essential to keep your immune system as strong as possible. You should ensure your diet is full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat lean meats. These foods can give your body the necessary vitamins and minerals it needs to barricade its defenses. Everyone has different dietary needs, so consult your doctor or a dietician for suitable ways to improve your immune system health. [5]

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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