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Infection

photo of woman lying on the sofa blowing her nose.The inner and outer world is teeming with microbes and germs. It seems like a big task to keep ourselves free of infections. Start with the obvious steps of avoiding people with cold symptoms—a runny nose or cough—and learn other practical ways to remain free of infection. Johns Creek Dermatology and Family Medicine believes in the importance of patient education to improve health outcomes for individuals and families.

Since skin is a natural barrier between our internal body processes and the germs that cause many infections, it’s quite important. Skin is part of the body’s largest organ, the integumentary system. Treat your skin with care and kindness each day, and then make these changes to prevent the spread of infectious disease in your family:

1. Wash your hands.

Surgeons in the nineteenth century decreased mortality by making one small change. They learned about the importance of washing their hands. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says most people don’t thoroughly wash their hands. CDC recommends using soap and water for at least twenty seconds. Hands should be dried with a disposable paper towel. If running water isn’t available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel or a wet wipe. CDC says the whole process should take about as long as the first part of the “Happy Birthday” song so some physicians recommend humming while you wash.

2. Don’t share your things.

Don’t let anyone else use a toothbrush, razor, nail clippers, hankie, or towel. Any of these things can spread infection by passing bacteria, fungi, or viruses to another user. Sinusitis, otitis media (ear infections), eye infections and other illnesses are spread by inadvertently sharing bodily fluids.

  • Symptoms of sinusitis can include runny nose (clear, opaque, yellowish or green exudate). Bacterial, viruses, or fungi may cause sinus infections. Prescription medicines are needed to clear these infections.
  • Symptoms of otitis media (ear infections) may include earache, gummy ear or clear fluids. If the illness progresses and infectious disease is present, perforated eardrum (tympanic membrane) and other problems result. Children’s shorter, horizontal eustachian tubes are somewhat responsible for widespread earaches in children. Not all earaches are caused by infection, but standing fluid can become infected. Prescribed medicines from the doctor are necessary to resolve the problem.
  • Symptoms of eye infections include “pink eye” (conjunctivitis); watery eyes, plugged tear ducts. Eye infections may result from bacterial, viral, or fungal agents. The doctor will diagnose and prescribe medicines when disease is present.

3. Cover your mouth or nose.

Good hygiene doesn’t stop when the individual leaves home. Make sure to cover a cough or sneeze when out and about. Researchers recommend using arm or sleeve the capture moisture and germs related to these events. Your good form can save hundreds of people from catching a cold or virus.

4. Don’t pick your nose.

Picking your nose, mouth, or eyes are poor form in public but also a bad idea in private. These actions can also spread infections. Since germs like the warmth and moisture of the nose, eyes, or mouth, don’t touch these areas with your hands. And, as above, wash hands properly and often.

5. Obtain vaccinations for children. Maintain adult vaccine levels.

The human immune system can remember previous encounters with disease agents and builds antibodies to them. Antibodies mount an attack against the disease agent and protect the individual from getting sick a second, third, or later time. Vaccination prevents people from contracting serious illnesses such as polio, measles, hepatitis, or meningitis. Johns Creek Dermatology and Family Medicine urges parents to vaccinate themselves and all family members against serious, preventable diseases.

6. Use safe food preparation techniques.

Food-borne illnesses can occur from improper food preparation or dining practices. Germs live on almost all food and increase when food is left at room or warmer temperatures. Placing foods in the refrigerator decreases or stops microbial growth. Make sure to put all foods in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking or preparation. Use different cutting boards or slicing tools for raw meat and vegetables. Wash fruits and vegetables well before eating them. Use paper towels and cleaning products to keep counter-tops and food preparation areas sanitary.

7. Travel smart.

Stay on the defensive when traveling in an undeveloped country. Buy bottled water and avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables washed in local water. Use bottled water for brushing teeth and don’t use ice cubes unless made with bottled water. The message is clear: bottled water is safest when the microbial quality of the water supply is uncertain.

8. Safe sex.

Use condoms to prevent bacterial or viral sexually transmitted diseases.

9. Animal care.

Pregnant women should take particular care around cats. However, if the family keeps cats, litter boxes should be kept scrupulously clean. Animal waste products can transmit zoonotic diseases to people.

Similarly, pets can transfer mites, fleas, ticks and other pests to humans. Some, such as ticks, carry serious diseases such as Lyme disease. Since ticks are often plentiful in areas where mice build their nests, it’s important to use proper extermination techniques to prevent pets and human family members from both rodents and ticks traveling on them.

10. News.

Become alert to public health notices. For instance, an outbreak of West Nile Virus in an area where the family is planning a camping trip may be cause for a new destination. Problems in the food or water supply are also usually in the news. Don’t worry, just take note. Then, plan accordingly.

Conclusion

Johns Creek Dermatology and Family Medicine believes that patient education is essential to improving family and community health. Informed patients enjoy healthier lives and need fewer doctor visits.

Patients in and around greater Atlanta, including North Atlanta, Dawsonville, Roswell, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Cumming, and beyond should call Dr. Zack Charkawi for an appointment today at 770-771-6591.