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Superbugs and Your Health: How to Combat Antibiotic Resistance

By |2018-11-29T13:52:33+00:00November 29th, 2018|

Guest blogger: Morgan Statt, Health & Safety Investigator, Consumer Safety

pills spilling from bottleThe discovery of antibiotics last century was a groundbreaking step in medical advancements. Common infections like strep throat that once led to serious complications are now easily treated. Over time however, widespread use of these medicines have caused bacteria to become resistant to the very drugs designed to kill infectious diseases. Superbugs represent a growing number of bacterial strains and related infections that are more difficult to treat, creating a rising public health concern.

Take charge of your overall wellness by educating yourself on three superbug concerns and the preventive measures you can take to stay healthy.

MRSA (Staph Infection)

MRSA is a bacterial strain that can cause a number of infections. In many cases, develop a skin infection characterized by sores or boils. If severe enough, the infection can also lead to sepsis or pneumonia.

How does MRSA spread?

MRSA spreads by contact; therefore, it is easily contracted if you touch or share personal items with someone who’s infected. Athletes who participate in contact sports and gym-goers who use shared weight-lifting equipment may be especially at risk for the infection.

How can you lower your risk?

hand washingSince MRSA is easily spread by contact, take special precautions if you find yourself in communal settings. Be sure to:

  • Avoid sharing any personal items such as razors and towels
  • Cover all cuts and other skin wounds until they are fully healed
  • Practice good body and hand hygiene; wash hands frequently

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection seen in the mouth, genitals or rectum. If left untreated, the infection can lead to additional health problems, including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and an increased risk of HIV. An emerging concern in recent months is Mycoplasma genitalium, an STI that often co-occurs with gonorrhea. It is expected to become antibiotic-resistant within 10 years.

How does Gonorrhea spread?

Gonorrhea spreads through sexual contact with someone already infected. Anyone who is sexually active is susceptible.

How can you lower your risk?

The most effective way to ensure that you do not contract gonorrhea is to refrain from engaging in sexual intercourse. However, preventive measures can be taken if you are sexually active. Be sure to:

  • Practice safe sex with the use of condoms and dental dams
  • Get tested for sexually transmitted infections
    • At least once a year
    • With each new partner
    • Every three months for multiple partners

Bacterial Pneumonia and Meningitis

In addition to causing bacterial pneumonia and meningitis, Streptococcus pneumoniae is a bacterial strain that can spur ear, sinus, and bloodstream infections. Due to weakened immune systems, seniors and children are most at risk. Typically, they acquire an upper respiratory infection that affects the nasal or respiratory tract, making it easier for bacteria to invade.

How can you lower your risk?

  • Get the necessary vaccines to protect against infection.
  • If you drink alcohol, decrease your intake.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Take antibiotics, opioids and other medications exactly as they are prescribed by your doctor.
  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap often, especially after you sneeze or cough.

About the Author:

Mari Rydings
Mari is the content development coordinator for North Kansas City Hospital. She’s the editor of our Your Health magazine, and she writes and edits copy for our web site, brochures and other external communication pieces. Her favorite cookie is the Double Stuf Oreo.

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