Preventing Infection

What you can do to prevent infections and stay healthy at home and once you are discharged from the hospital

Germs are everywhere. Most of the time, they don't make us sick because our bodies have defenses like our skin and immune system that protect us. Every once in a while, however, these germs do cause an infection.

Infections occur most frequently in hospitals and other health care settings like clinics and doctors' offices where people have weakened immune systems. Healthy people, however, can also get infections even when they are not in the hospital.

Fortunately, there are simple things you can do at home, at the gym, and in the hospital, that can help prevent infection.

Here are a few easy measures you can take in your daily life to stay healthy.

Keep your hands clean.
Washing your hands regularly is the most powerful thing you can do to prevent infection. Make sure you always remember to wash after going to the bathroom, before you eat, or after taking out the trash. Since it can sometimes be hard to get to a sink, keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in your car or bag.

Cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze.
Use a tissue or even the bend in your elbow to prevent spreading germs to others. Make sure to wash your hands afterwards.Take care of cuts, scratches and wounds. Your skin is your armor against harmful bacteria.

Keep all cuts, scratches and wounds.
Clean and protected with a clean, dry bandage. Don't "let it breathe" unless your doctor directs you differently. If cuts are not healing, see a doctor.

Keep your skin healthy.

If it starts getting dry or cracking, apply moisturizing cream to keep skin soft.

Use prescription antibiotics responsibly.
Be careful not to use prescription antibiotics too often. Doing this can actually make them less effective because it allows germs to build up resistance to medications. If you start taking antibiotics, be sure to take the full prescription. Stopping in the middle may allow the infection to return even stronger.

If you are sick, avoid close contact with others.

When you are sick, you should stay home from work or school, and avoid public transportation and other places where there are crowds. Also, don't shake hands or touch others. By doing these things other people won't get sick, and you'll get better faster.

Practice good hygiene at the gym.
Make sure to always clean weights, exercise mats and aerobic equipment with antibacterial wipes before and after you use them. Wear flip flops in the shower and steam room to prevent athlete's foot or other infections. Shower after you work out and make sure you always use a clean towel to dry yourself.

Keep exercise equipment clean.
If you or someone in your family plays baseball, football or any other sport that requires personal protective equipment, be sure that they wipe down this equipment with antibacterial wipes after every use. It's important not to share personal equipment.