Staph infections are something that most people want to avoid at all costs. However, in today’s bacteria-ridden world, that isn’t as easy as it might sound. It seems that the number of cases of this type of infection continue to grow in spite of the wide variety of antibiotics available to work against them. The primary reason for this escalation is simple: Infections are mutating and finding ways to battle or even contradict the very antibiotics that were developed to destroy them. So it is important that individuals remain vigilant in recognizing and reporting any possible staph infections to their doctors as quickly as possible. Knowing which symptoms to look for is a critical key to solving the problem.
1. Learn how staph infection is obtained. A certain amount of staph infection naturally exists within the human body and can be spread from one area to another. It can be caught simply through breathing since many forms of staph are airborne. However, more often than not, it is caught through direct contact with an infected person or object. It may be absorbed through a cut in the skin, a sore or as result of surgery.
2. Watch for traditional skin staph infections. They exhibit themselves as sores that are often filled with a yellow- or orange-colored pus. If not properly treated and handled, the sores may abscess and spread the bacteria to other areas of the body.
3. Learn about other types of staph infections. Not all of them can be recognized easily. Some fester underneath the surface of the skin or even hide deep within the body. These do, however, still offer symptoms that can sometimes be seen and/or felt. The skin area around the infection may get very red, be sore to the touch or even radiate heat. Deeper infections may cause moderate to high fever, nausea, vomiting or even headache, stomach cramps, diarrhea or localized pain that can’t otherwise be explained. In some instances a rash may appear in one area and rapidly spread to other areas of the body.
4. Recognize who is most at risk. While staph infections can claim the life of anyone, given the right condition, they are most brutal when attached to young children and the elderly. Because the immune systems of these two groups can sometimes be compromised, staph can take hold very rapidly and do a great deal of damage before it is even recognized.
5. Understand the danger or staph. Left unchecked, it can get into the bloodstream and enter into vital organs such as the heart, brain, kidneys, lungs or liver. It can lead to inflammation of heart valves, the spinal cord, brain, bone, or lungs leading to conditions like pneumonia, meningitis, and endocarditis or serious health conditions. Particularly virulent staph infections could result in toxic shock syndrome. The infection may affect blood flow to certain parts of the body, throwing it rapidly into a state of shock (within 36 to 72 hours). The condition can render the individual unconscious. Left untreated it can cause major organ damage or death within a matter of days or weeks.
6. Watch for the symptoms. Some of the most common include high fever, unexplained skin rash, or a sudden outbreak of boils or skin abscesses. Be aware of severe pain and/or redness or swelling surrounding a cut or scrape. Watch for unexplained blistering of the skin, which may even fester and peel like a sunburn or scale over, getting hard to the touch with painful cracking.
7. Call a doctor if any of the above symptoms occur. Go to an urgent care facility if open, painful sores suddenly appear near the face, spine or groin areas, or if lymph nodes in the neck, under the arms or around the groin become swollen and painful. Also report if red streaks grow rapidly from a cut, scrape, boil or other skin abrasion.
8. Request the appropriate blood tests from a doctor to rule out staph infection if it is suspected. He or she may also recommend X-rays and/or a needle biopsy to nail down the extent of the infection and its specific strain.
9. Check into treatments that can help prevent staph infections. Washing hands properly after going to the bathroom, shaking hands with strangers, handling foreign objects, and working with foods, plants, animals and people can go a long way in preventing the problem. Using antibiotic cream on superficial cuts and scrapes can often prevent the infection from taking hold. Following doctor’s orders after surgery is essential to prevent unnecessary infection from taking place.
10. Report any recurring boils or abscesses to a physician. This could be a symptom of something serious.