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How To Avoid Infection 101


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When your immune system is low, there is increased chance of developing an infection.

An infection can begin in almost any part of your body, including your mouth, skin, lungs, urinary tract, rectum and reproductive tract. Most infections come from the bacteria normally found on the skin and in the intestines and reproductive tract that doesn't normally affect us when our immune systems are functioning fully.

While it's close to impossible to avoid all infections, it is possible to reduce the likelihood of getting an infection by taking care. For instance:

  • Properly wash your hands, which you should do frequently.
  • Don't touch your face unless you've just washed your hands.
  • Practice good dental hygiene.
  • Purchase, store, clean and cook food properly.
  • Take care in crowds.
  • Avoid people with infectious diseases if possible. If you can't avoid them, take care.
  • Take care with your skin. Avoid nicks and cuts.
  • Clean your rectal area gently but thoroughly after each bowel movement.
  • Take care when applying make-up.
  • Take a warm (not hot) bath and shower or sponge bath every day.
  • Take care when cleaning up after children and pets.
  • Speak with your specialist about whether flu and other immunization shots are safe for you.
  • When your immune system is particularly low, postpone teeth cleaning and other dental work, as well as inoculations.

For the following specific situations, click on the link:

It is possible to increase infection fighting white blood cells. For information, click here

For signs of infection to watch for, click here.

Testing for infection:  Low amount of white blood cells usually indicates the presence of an infection. Your doctor can test for white blood cells by injecting a small needle (usually in an arm) and removing a small amount of blood. The blood is then sent to a lab for testing. If your immune system is low, your doctor will probably check your white blood count frequently, particularly when you are receiving treatment. If your count drops too low, your doctor may postpone treatment or give you a lower dosage of drugs.

NOTE: It is helpful to keep a thermometer handy because it is advisable to call your doctor immediately, (even at night or on weekends), if you have a temperature of 100.5 degrees Farenheit or higher. Also call your doctor if you develop chills (with or without fever) or other symptoms of infection your doctor suggested you watch for.

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