Protecting Yourself from Bacterial Infections: Tips for Prevention and Early Detection

on June 12th, 2023
with 0 Comments
in Health Information and Tips

In a recent year, 7.7 million deaths globally were linked to bacterial infections. Bacteria infections are also the second-leading cause of death globally. Most infections affect the lower respiratory tract, bloodstream, and intra-abdominal infections.

In addition, bacteria infections attack the skin, lungs, brain and other body parts. You can get a bacterial infection when a single-celled pathogen multiplies or releases toxins inside your body. Interestingly, humans have many bacteria that live in the body that are not harmful.

While most infections are treatable, any bacterial infection that enters your crucial organs, like the lungs, heart, or brain, can be life-threatening. The most severe complication is sepsis, a life-threatening condition that causes organ damage and is sometimes fatal.

If you’re looking for prompt and quality treatment for a bacteria infection, consider visiting a trusted urgent care center.

Maintaining Good Hygiene Practices: A Key Strategy for Preventing Bacterial Infections

Observing good hygiene practices is an effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones against bacterial infections. In addition to preventing diseases, good hygiene helps you stay clean and boosts your confidence promoting healthy relationships with people.

Here’s a list of good hygiene practices to help you repel bacteria infections.

Washing Your Hands

Handwashing is the simplest and the most beneficial personal hygiene practice. It’s also an effective way to keep out bacterial infections. 

Here’s how germs spread through hands.

Hands can help transmit lower respiratory tract and abdominal bacterial infections. Bacterial infections spread from the surface to people and from people to people when you;

  • Touch surfaces or objects that have bacteria
  • When you touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Prepare or eat food with dirty hands
  • Blow your nose or sneeze into your hands and touch other people’s hands or objects.

How to Wash Your Hands

You can kill bacteria by washing your hands for at least 20 seconds.

Follow these steps during handwashing:

  • Step1: Wet your hands with water
  • Step 2: Apply liquid soap or bar soap all over your hand surfaces
  • Step 3: Rub the palms together
  • Step 4: Wash your fingers and the back of your hands
  • Step 5: Use a scrubbing brush to clean dirty fingers
  • Step 6: Rinse both hands with running water, including the tap
  • Step 7: Dry your hands with a clean towel

Critical Times to Wash Your Hands

Protect yourself and your loved ones by washing your hands during these critical times when you’re more likely to get a bacterial infection:

  • After using the restroom
  • Before and after eating meals
  • Before and after treating a wound, bruise, or cut
  • After sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose
  • After handling garbage
  • After touching pet food or treats
  • After handling animals, their feeds and waste
  • Before or after taking care of someone who sick with diarrhea or vomiting

Oral Hygiene

Oral hygiene is the practice of keeping your mouth clean and disease free. It’s an essential aspect of preventative care which helps stop oral problems such as cavities, bad breath, and gum diseases.

Here are the common infections linked with poor oral health:

  • Gingivitis
  • Dental Cavities
  • Thrush
  • Canker Sores
  • Oral Herpes
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Hand, Foot, and Mouth diseases

Common signs of poor oral hygiene include bleeding gums, loose teeth, toothache, swelling of the jaw, chronic bad breath, and persistent mouth sores.

Here’s how you can improve your oral hygiene:

  • Brush Twice a Day: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth at least twice daily. Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards your gum to sweep away plaque and bacteria at the gum line. Clean all mouth areas, including the back and side.
  • Brush the Tongue: The tongue carries loads of bacteria. Once you clean your teeth, always remember to clean your tongue. Use your toothbrush or tongue scraper to clean off any food particles or bacteria stuck on it.
  • Floss Once a Day: Cleaning your teeth with a toothbrush leaves food particles in spaces around your teeth. Use a piece of dental floss to clean these areas.
  • Use an Antibacterial Mouthwash: An antibacterial mouthwash helps eliminate mouth bacteria. It also washes food and debris, which reduces plaque build-up. Look for a variety with an alcohol-free formula to prevent a dry mouth.
  • Visit Your Dentist Regularly: Plan for a dental check-up every six months. However, plan for more visits if you’re prone to gum, cavity, and other oral hygiene issues.

Face and Skin Hygiene

Your skin is a natural barrier that protects other body organs from bacteria and viral infections. It’s, therefore, essential to have a daily skincare routine to keep it as healthy as possible. 

Here are a few skincare and hygiene routines:

  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Not all skin products are ideal for your skin
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dry skin
  • Avoid intense sun exposure— use sunscreen or protective clothing
  • Speak to your doctor if you notice odd changes in your skin, e.g. rush 
  • Wash in warm water and use mild soaps that don’t irritate your skin.

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is a collection of evening habits and rituals that helps you get a restful night. Poor sleep hygiene can cause a sleep disorder and contribute to poor immunity exposing yourself to bacterial infections.

Here are a few sleep hygiene practices that can improve your sleeping patterns:

  • Take a light meal for dinner.
  • Avoid drinking caffeine 4-6 hours before going to bed
  • Disconnect from technology an hour before going to bed; instead, read a book
  • Have a regular sleep and wake-up time

Nail Hygiene

Appropriate nail hygiene includes cleaning and trimming your fingernails that hide dirt and germs contributing to spreading germs. Fingernails should be kept short, with undersides cleaned with soap and water.

Equipment trimming nails— nail clippers and files should be appropriately cleaned and sterilized, especially when they’re shared, especially in commercial nail salons.

Bacterial infections in the finger or toenails have symptoms such as swelling of the surrounding skin, thickening of the nail, and pain.

Other helpful nail hygiene practices include:

  • Avoid biting or chewing your nails.
  • Don’t cut the cuticles because they act as barriers to bacterial infections.
  • Scrub the underside of your nails with a nail brush and soap water every time you wash your hands.

Shower Hygiene

Taking a shower is part of the daily self-care routine. However, doing it right is essential to protecting your health by preventing bacterial infections. Women with poor shower hygiene are vulnerable to vaginal irritation and infections.

Here are a few tips to improve your shower hygiene:

  • Lower the temperature of the bath water.
  • Keep shower time close to 5 minutes and under 15.
  • Don’t shower too often; twice a day is perfect
  • Don’t shower with hard water—get a filter
  • Use a fresh and dry washcloth

Healthy Lifestyle Habits: Strengthening Your Immune System to Ward Off Bacterial Infections

heat-related illness - man on sunny soccer field, shielding eyes from sun, drinking water

A healthy lifestyle has unlimited benefits, including boosting your immune system and preventing chronic diseases. The immune system is the body’s way of protecting itself from bacterial infections such as pneumonia, strep throat, Urinary tract infections, and tuberculosis.

Several factors determine the strength of your immune system—for instance, vaccines build the immune system for certain diseases. Equally, you can adopt certain lifestyle habits to strengthen your immune system.

Here are 8 tips to strengthen your immune system naturally.

Eat Well

Eating well means a healthy intake of foods with nutrients that support the immune system. It means taking a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk, whole grain, and lean proteins.

You’ll also need to limit your cholesterol, fat, added sugar, and saturated fats intake.

Consider increasing the intake of plant foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables, and fruits rich in antioxidants. Generally, antioxidants help decrease inflammation by dealing with unstable compounds called free radicals, which cause inflammation if they accumulate in your body.

Here are five foods that can boost your immune system:

  • Papaya: Papaya is a fruit with a generous amount of vitamin C. A medium fruit doubles the recommended intake of Vitamin C. It has a digestive enzyme called papain with anti-inflammatory properties. More importantly, papaya has essential nutrients like magnesium, folate, and potassium that benefit your body.
  • Citrus Fruit: Traditionally, people turn to citrus fruit when they get a cold infection simply because it boosts their immune system. According to studies, Vitamin C promotes the production of white blood cells key to fighting infections. All citrus fruits, including grapes, lemons, tangerines, oranges, and limes, are high in vitamin C.
  • Broccoli: Broccoli has high doses of vitamins and minerals. It contains vitamins A, C, and E, fiber, and other antioxidants.  It’s, therefore, a healthy vegetable to include in your meals. Cook it as little as possible or none for the best results.
  • Garlic: Garlic may help reduce inflammation in sore throats and other inflammatory illnesses. Generally, ginger contains antioxidants that help combat inflammation, boost the immune system, and keep you strong and healthy.
  • Poultry: Chicken soup helps lower inflammation and is also excellent for cold symptoms. The soup gets crucial nutrients such as gelatin and chondroitin for gut healing and immunity by boiling chicken bones. Chicken or turkey meat contains high levels of Vitamin B-6.

Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is highly linked with good health, with poor sleep increasing disease susceptibility. Getting enough rest strengthens your immune system naturally. Interestingly, people with bacterial infections are encouraged to sleep more to allow the immune system to fight the illness. 

While sleeping, the body produces a protein called cytokines which works on infections and inflammation, creating an immune response. The body also produces T-cells—white blood cells— during sleep, which are essential in fighting bacterial infections.

Adults should aim to sleep seven or more hours each night, with teens requiring 8-10 hours of sleep. Young children and infants should sleep up to 14 hours.  

If you’re having trouble sleeping, try the following tips:

  • Limit screen time an hour before bed.
  • Sleep in a completely dark room.
  • Exercise regularly
  • Use a sleep mask
  • Take a warm bath or shower before going to bed

Maintain Healthy Weight

Excess weight affects how your body functions. Studies show that obesity correlates with an impaired immune system.

Here’s how being overweight or obese has negative consequences on your immune system:

  • Being overweight reduces the functionality and effectiveness of the lymphatic system.
  • Excess weight stresses your body, which strips the nutrients the immune system needs and enough rest to fight infections.
  • Obese people are at risk of chronic tissue inflammation, which exposes them to infections.
  • Obesity also lowers the vaccine effectiveness for numerous conditions, including influenza.

Losing weight is, therefore, critical in achieving a robust immune system. The immune system contains a variety of cells that help the body fight against bacterial infections. Proper immune system functioning requires these cells to operate in an appropriate balance.

However, several factors, including excess body fat, can distort the required balance forming harmful cells that impact your immune system. For instance, excess body fat around your abdomen can cause inflammation, ultimately weakening your immune system.

Here are a few tips for maintaining a healthy weight:

  • Drink more water
  • Monitor the total calories that you eat or drink each day
  • Exercise daily
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat smaller portions of food

Try Some Moderate Workouts

Moderate workouts will boost your immune system instead of prolonged activities that can suppress it. Moderate exercise such as jogging, walking, biking, and swimming can reduce inflammation and promote healthy production of immune cells.

Exercise causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells. Exercises also help antibodies or white blood cells circulate quickly, allowing them easily detect and respond to bacterial infection.

Take Enough Fluids and Water

You may know drinking is essential for a healthy and functional body; however, few know that staying hydrated supports immune function. Interestingly, the body consists of 70% water, so it’s no surprise waiting hydrated promotes a healthy body.

Staying hydrated supports the body’s excretion of toxins and bacteria that cause infections. Water helps carry oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, and in turn, waste is flushed out of the system, which keeps diseases at bay.

Moreover, dehydration may cause headaches and hinder physical performance, mood, digestion, and heart or kidney function. These and other complications of dehydration increase your susceptibility to infections.

Drink enough fluids daily to prevent dehydration— alkaline water, lemon water, warm water, and infused water will achieve hydration and immune boost goals. You may need more water after an intense workout, live in hot climates, or work outside.

Manage Your Stress Levels

According to a study by the American Psychological Association, long-term stress can weaken your immune system. Stress raises cortisol levels and weakens your immune system if they stay in the body for an extended period.

Stress may also damage white blood cells responsible for fighting off infections and trigger responses in your immune system, including elevated inflammation making you susceptible to bacterial and viral infections.

Activities that can help you reduce stress levels include:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness walking
  • Journaling
  • Exercise

Eat More Fermented Foods 

Fermented foods contain probiotics, beneficial bacteria that are required in the digestive tract. More importantly, fermented foods are rich in Vitamin C, iron, and zinc, which are essential for a robust immune system.

Common fermented foods include yogurt, natto,  kimchi, and kefir. Studies suggest that a flourishing network of gut bacteria may help your immune cells to differentiate between normal, healthy, and harmful invaders.

Alternatively, you may take probiotic supplements to boost your immune system. 

Probiotics also make it easier to digest food and enhance your digestive health. Studies also suggest fermented foods benefit mental health, weight loss, and heart health.

Minimize Alcohol Intake

Excessive consumption of alcohol will ultimately weaken your immune system, increasing your chances of getting a bacterial infection. American dietary guidelines recommend that adults of legal drinking age choose not to drink or take two drinks or less daily for men. 

Women should have a drink or less per day. Excessive drinking involves binge or heavy drinking and any form of drinking for pregnant women and people younger than 21.  

Binge drinking in women involves taking 4 or more drinks per single occasion. On the other hand, binge drinking involves taking 5 or more drinks for men per single occasion. Heavy drinking for men involves taking 15 or more drinks per week and 8 or more for women.

Understanding the Risk Factors: Who is Most Susceptible to Bacterial Infections? 

School Physical, Newport Urgent Care

Anyone can get a bacterial infection; most people get it eventually. However, some people become more sick with severe symptoms or complications.

These people include:

  • People who’re 65 years and above
  • Children who’re 2 years or younger
  • Pregnant women
  • People with weakened or suppressed immune systems—e.g., people with HIV/AIDS, those with an organ transplant, and those who undergo chemotherapy or long-term steroids.
  • People suffering from chronic diseases such as asthma and heart problems

Recognizing Early Symptoms: A Guide to Prompt Treatment for Bacterial Infections

Common Symptoms of a Bacteria Infection

There are varying symptoms of bacterial infections, which vary based on the affected body part and the type of bacteria involved. 

The general signs of bacterial infections include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes—neck, armpits & groin
  • Headache
  • Vomiting or Nausea

Here are further symptoms based on the affected body part:

  • Skin: Certain bacteria live in the skin without harming a person; however, they can cause a bacterial infection if they enter the body through wounds, cuts, and other skin cuts. Symptoms of a bacteria infection in the skin include redness, swelling, pain, or pus.
  • Lungs: Some common lung bacterial infections include tuberculosis, Pneumonia, and Bronchitis. If you have pneumonia, you’ll likely cough, develop a fever, lose appetite, have shortness of breath, and experience stabbing chest pains.
  • Gastrointestinal Tract: The common forms of bacterial infections in the GI tract include food poisoning, peptic ulcer, Cholera, E.coli, and Campylobacter. Patients with bacteria infections in the GI tract include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
  • Urinary Tract Infections(UTI): Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria from the skin or rectum enter the urethra, infecting the urinary tract. The common forms of bacteria that cause UTIs include Enterococcus, Aerococcus, and Streptococcus. Symptoms of UTIs include pain while urinating, discharge from the penis or vagina, increased urination, and painful sexual intercourse.
  • Heart (Endocarditis): Endocarditis is a life-threatening inflammation caused by an infection in the inner lining of the heart valves and chambers. A bacterial infection causes it through the bloodstream, which attaches to damaged heart sections. Common symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, aching joints, cough, and muscle pain.

When Should You Visit an Urgent Care Center

See a doctor if you have bacterial infection symptoms and have had them for a couple of days. More importantly, follow up with your physician if your symptoms are not improving despite having your medication.

Some of the symptoms that indicate the need to see a doctor include:

  • Persistent fever or chills
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Discomfort during urination
  • Severe abdominal pains
  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss
  • Severe headache 
  • A wound that is red, hot, and swollen
  • Persistent ear pain and wetness

Seek immediate medical attention if you have signs of a severe bacterial infection, including a high fever above 39.4 degrees, low blood pressure, and confusion.

How Long Does Bacterial Medication Last?

If a doctor prescribes antibiotics for your bacteria infection, you must take them for a week or two. Taking the medication according to the prescription is also advisable to avoid reinfection risk.

Visit Newport Urgent Care Center For Fast Relief From Bacterial Infections

Symptoms of most bacterial infections are mild. However, you risk fatal complications if bacteria infect a crucial organ like the brain. If meningitis, a brain infection, is left untreated, it can develop into brain damage, kidney failure, shock, and death.

With that in mind, it’s always advisable to seek timely treatment from an urgent care center if you encounter symptoms of bacterial infections.

Newport Urgent Care & Occupational Medicine is a well-equipped facility with board-certified physicians ready to serve you.

Contact us online or call us at 949.752.6300 to book an appointment.