Shirley (name changed) had been coughing for over 10 days. Her mother Reena had already taken Shirley to the doctor and had finished the 5 day antibiotic course. Yet Shirley’s cough seemed to persist. Any amount of medication did not seem to get the cough down. A worried Reena went back to the doctor. What the doctor said made Reena gasp in horror. The bacteria had become drug resistant and immune to the antibiotics and therefore they needed to move on to something stronger. Little Shirley now had to have double the dosage of drugs recommended and suffered also from side effects like stomach aches and diarrhea.
Shirley is but just one case. There are many more Shirley’s today and the infections in their body are no longer curable by using the available antibiotics. Since Shirley was a kid, her infection did vanish in a few days. However senior citizens also face the same problem and their conditions persist for a much longer period.
The important fact of the matter remains that the prevention and control of infection is of crucial importance. Studies have now revealed that for many germs that are killed, there are always a few that develop drug resistance to it and therefore when they multiply, the antibiotic is no longer able to kill these resistant strains. Thus the body becomes a hot spot for all the resistant variety of germs.
There are certain infections, which in the wider population, might not be a reason of concern but could be potentially very perilous to weak patients, those in the post-operative care and those with certain definite medical conditions. So the best way to avoid this is to prevent infections in the first place. It has not been said for nothing by our forefathers that prevention is better than cure. This is one reason why it is so important that even robust and fit persons take certain precautions against infection.
In elderly patients, elder care and geriatric care groups, the immune systems are already compromised and any infection no matter how small has to be prevented .
PREVENTION IS DEFINITELY BETTER THAN CURE ESPECIALLY FOR SENIOR CITIZENS.
All of us need to play our part in the fight against infection. Let us look at a few things that we can do to keep infection at bay.
- Hand hygiene is one of the most important factors in helping infection prevention. Whenever you come back home from outside, ensure you wash your hands with soap before you touch anything.
- You need not hesitate to remind your doctor or nurse, if the need arises, to clean their hands.
- If someone at home is down with diarrhea and/or vomiting, ensure that the area is properly cleaned and de-germed!
- Your children are the most susceptible to infections followed by the seniors in your home. Ensure they inculcate the habit of keeping themselves and their environment clean and tidy.
- Don’t get in touch directly with people whom you know have diseases that are contagious. Also if you are the one who has it, make sure you keep yourself away from a crowd especially if there are children and seniors involved.
- Toilets are one of the most common sources of spread of infection. Clean and disinfected toilets go a long way in preventing infections.
- The more stuff you have, the more you are prone to infection. You do not know what lurks behind the tons of unwanted material that you have kept for use on a later day.
Just to summarize what precautionary measures need to be taken, we can classify them as follows:
1. Universal precautions – hand washing, hygiene, use of gloves or other barriers, disinfection
2. Contact or blood borne precautions – use of barriers for diseases spread by direct contact (e.g., HIV, cholera, Ebola)
3. Airborne precautions – use of face masks, ventilation, voluntary isolation for airborne diseases (e.g., tuberculosis, avian and pandemic influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome)
It is definitely an easier task to prevent than to cure. However keep in mind one fact – Cure is a smaller process, but could turn out to be way too expensive in the long run. Prevention on the other hand is an ongoing process that is not only easy, but economical too!
At One Life Home healthcare hygiene and infection prevention is specially taught to our staff nurses to prevent infection and hospital admissions.