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Tips on Avoiding Bacterial Infections

Thursday 29 July 2021
5 minute(s) read

Table of Contents

I. How do Infections Transmit?

II. How to Practice Good Hygiene

III. Preparing Food Safely

IV. Travel Precautions

V. Taking Antibiotics

How do Infections Transmit?

Bacteria are microscopic, single-celled organisms that live all around us. Beneficial bacteria live in the body and help with digestion, vitamin synthesis, and stimulate immunity. But harmful bacteria also live in the body, producing toxins, carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substances, and intestinal putrefaction (decay). Some examples of bad bacteria include toxic strains of E. coli, clostridium perfringens, and staphylococcus.

When the immune system cannot hold off bad bacteria, a bacterial infection may occur. Certain bacterial infections are caused by strains of bacteria already present in the body. These are called opportunistic bacteria because they do not cause problems when the body is healthy but can lead to infections when the body is weak. Bacterial infections can also occur through human-to-human transmission. [1]

Transmission of infections typically occurs through contact. For example, if you use an infected person’s towel, the bad bacteria may transmit through that person’s sweat droplets. Another example is if an infected person coughs or sneezes near you. If you have a pet, they can be infected and transfer the infection to you. [2]

a muddy puppy

If you are diagnosed with a bacterial infection, such as traveler’s diarrhea, urinary tract infection, pneumonia, or bronchitis, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic like Xifaxan, Levaquin, amoxicillin, or retapamulin cream. Read on to learn more about how you can avoid bacterial infections.

How to Practice Good Hygiene

To reduce the risk of infections to and from others, good hygiene is crucial. According to Harvard Health, good hygiene is the primary way to prevent infections. To stop infections before they begin and avoid spreading bad bacteria to others, follow these guidelines:

  • Wash your hands properly: wet your hands thoroughly and lather up with soap. Make sure to rub the palms, back of your hands, and wrists. Carefully clean under your nails, your fingertips, and between the fingers. Finally, rinse under running water and dry your hands with a clean towel.
  • This meticulous hand-washing routine is recommended after coughing or sneezing, using the bathroom, gardening, and before eating. It can be easy to forget, but proper hand-washing should also be done after stroking your pet or visiting someone sick. While this may seem tedious, it is the best way to prevent bacterial infections.  
  • Cover your cough: remember to cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze into a tissue whenever possible. Promptly dispose of used tissues and cough or sneeze into your elbow instead of your hands when no tissue is available.

a knee with some scabs

  • Take care of wounds: avoid picking at healing wounds or squeezing pimples. Nearly 80 percent of infectious bacteria are spread by your hands, so avoid touching open wounds as best as you can. Whenever you get a cut or scrape, wash the area thoroughly before bandaging the injury. If the injury is caused by an animal bite, you should see your doctor.
  • Keep personal items personal. Do not share dishes, eating utensils, or glasses with others, especially if that person is sick or fighting a bacterial infection. Especially avoid direct contact with handkerchiefs, tissues, napkins, and toothbrushes used by others. [3] [4]

Preparing Food Safely

Serious food-borne bacterial infections are rare. Still, you should prepare food safely to lower your risk as much as possible. Always practice the hand-washing regimen outlined above before and after you handle raw meat. Other safe food-handling tips include:

  • Rinse all meat, fish, poultry, and fruits and vegetables with running water before cooking or serving.
  • Separate raw and cooked foods. 
  • Use separate utensils and cutting boards for raw meat and other food items.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure foods are thoroughly cooked.
  • Don’t leave food out to defrost. Instead, only defrost food in the refrigerator or the microwave. [3]

Travel Precautions

Conditions like traveler’s diarrhea (E. coli infection) are more common abroad. To avoid bacterial infections when visiting high-risk destinations, talk to your doctor at least three months before you leave. This will give you time to get the necessary vaccinations.

If you are traveling to a country with many insect-borne diseases (malaria, dengue, yellow fever, or encephalitis), bring insect repellent on your trip. You should also avoid getting shots while overseas. Unnecessary immunizations or tattoos involve needles and syringes, which are reused in some parts of the world.

an airplane directly overhead

Bacterial infections often transmit through contaminated water sources, so boil your water or drink bottled water whenever possible. Remember, freezing does not kill off infectious water-borne bacteria, so avoid ice in your drinks as they may be frozen with tap water.

Finally, avoid uncooked vegetables and fruits you have not peeled yourself. Dairy products are often problematic as well because the milk may not be pasteurized. Medications such as Xifaxan can be used to treat traveler’s diarrhea. Talk to your doctor about antibiotics to take if you develop a bacterial infection while traveling. [3]

Taking Antibiotics

Even if you follow all these tips, bacterial infections can still be hard to avoid. Certain conditions that affect the immune system may increase your risk of infections. If you are diagnosed with stomach ulcers, bronchitis, traveler’s diarrhea, or another bacterial disease, ask your doctor whether antibiotics are right for you. Antibiotics like rifaximin, levofloxacin, and amoxicillin slow the growth of bad bacteria and help the immune system fend off harmful intruders. If you are prescribed antibiotics, visit Canada Drug Warehouse to fill your prescription at discounted prices today.

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.