Tag Archives: Staph

Straight, No Chaser: Questions About Abscesses (Boils)

Whether you call them boils, pus pockets or abscesses, they hurt. Abscesses are infections that localize and collect pus beneath the skin. Although previous Straight, No Chaser posts have addressed MRSA, this one will highlight your frequently asked questions about abscesses.

 abscess1

Why do I get an abscess?
Something causes an injury or sufficient irritation to your skin to allow bacteria to enter, and/or your lowered immunity can’t adequately fight back. Examples of circumstances causing skin infections that can develop into abscesses include ingrown hairs (folliculitis), insect bites and IV drug use. You are at increased risk for developing an abscess if you have diabetes, are obese, use IV drugs, have a weakened immune system or have an untreated skin infection (cellulitis).

 Abscess2

What causes abscesses?
Bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) and Streptococcus are common causes of abscesses. I’ll remind you that MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staph Aureus; this is an indication that traditionally used antibiotics don’t work against this particular strain of bacteria. MRSA should be a reminder of the dangers of inappropriate antibiotic use.

 abscess3

How do I know if I have an abscess?
Trust me. You’ll know. Typically you’ll develop a skin infection first, which could simply include pus-filled bumps that worsen to become red, warm, swollen and tender. You may develop a fever, and you will have a significant amount of pain.
Can I treat these at home?
Generally not unless you’re a physician or have access to one at home… What you can do is prevent them. Stop picking at your skin; in fact, learn to keep your hands off your skin. Use clean equipment (e.g. razors, clippers) if you shave hair from your skin.
In terms of treating abscesses at home, it is not advisable for you to attempt to cut yourself or otherwise deal with these once one has formed. Abscesses often have deep tracks under the skin that need to be explored. Whatever you’re doing to delay getting evaluated is increasing the risk that things will worsen.

abscess i&D abscess gauze

So how are abscesses treated?
There are two approaches to treating abscesses: “from the inside out” and “from the outside in.”

  • From the inside out refers to receiving antibiotics. Most abscess do respond promptly to antibiotics if you don’t wait too long to get them treated.
  • From the outside in refers to a procedure called incision and drainage (I & D). You’ll recognize this as your physician having to cut open the abscess, clean the area out and place gauze in the wound for a few days. Doing this in most cases eliminates the need to also take antibiotics. Unfortunately, I & Ds often must be done on higher risk abscesses, and in some instances, it’s necessary to have it done by a surgeon.

When should I see a doctor for one of these?
These generally aren’t getting better on their own. In particular, if you have one of the risk factors previously mentioned (diabetes, IV drug use, obesity, decreased immunity), the abscess is on or near your genitalia, is spreading fast or is extremely painful, you should be seen sooner rather than later.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Toxic Shock Syndrome

toxicShock1

Straight, No Chaser has addressed Staphylococcus (aka Staph) infections on several occasions; in fact, Staph is the microorganism that is responsible for all those MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staph Aureus) infections that the general public holds in such fear. Toxic shock syndrome is also primarily caused by Staph. The early take home message is you just don’t want to get this infection, and you would really do well to learn and practice preventive measures to avoid Staph infections. You may not have known it, but part of your big talks with your children about hygiene (e.g. feminine hygiene and keeping objects out of your body) occur with this in mind.
Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a very serious disease combining fever, shock and dysfunction of several bodily organ systems. There was a time when TSS was a much bigger deal, back when extra absorbent tampon usage was very high. Tampon usage has declined as the dominant cause of TSS, but TSS cases are still around and are every bit as dangerous. The toxic part of the name refers to Staph (or in a similar syndrome, an organism called Streptococcus) releasing a toxin that travels through the body causing havoc. Picture a microorganism releasing a series of hand grenades into your blood stream, and you’ll get the picture.
Having an infection is not enough to develop toxic shock syndrome; not everyone with a Staph infection develops TSS. Here are risks for developing the disease.

 toxicshocksyndrome6

  • Burns
  • Menstruation
  • Presence of foreign bodies or packings (e.g. “lost” tampons, surgical tissues or any other objects in your body parts, nasal packings used to treat nosebleeds)
  • Recent childbirth
  • Staph infection
  • Surgery
  • Tampon use (especially if you leave one in for a long time)
  • Wound infection after surgery

 toxicshockhands

There’s not a lot of guesswork with a patient with toxic shock syndrome. The other meaning of toxic in the name is patients are very ill. By the time they come in for treatment, they tend to be confused with a low blood pressure. They may exhibit nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. High fever, chills, muscles, headaches and a violent-appearing rash resembling sunburn are to be expected. Untreated, the toxins can cause seizures and failure of multiple organ systems of the body.
Treatment of toxic shock syndrome is complicated and critical, addressing a critically ill patient in shock, preserving the body’s organ systems, treating an infection, removing any foreign objects found and draining any infections (such as a surgical wound). Patients with toxic shock syndrome often find themselves in intensive care units, and the mortality rate (those who die) approaches 50%.
Your best bet in avoiding toxic shock syndrome is practicing good hygiene and avoiding the use of highly absorbent tampons. If you do use tampons, change them frequently (as directed); it’s just not a good idea to leave them in for extra periods of time trying to be frugal. Similarly the presence of any other cloth material retained anywhere inside of you (e.g. objects broken off in the ear, certain types of vaginal or anal instrumentation) is to be avoided. If you ever receive a nasal packing for a nosebleed, you should be placed on antibiotics at the same time. Be diligent after surgery, looking for any signs of fever or infection at the surgical site. Get significant burns treated.
This is something you should think about. Your simple steps of prevention really can be life-saving. I welcome your questions.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Understanding Food Poisoning (Foodborne Illness)

FoodPoisoning

We make a decision with everything we place into our mouths. We also exhibit a large amount of trust that the food we eat is safe. Most of the time that’s true, but unfortunately sometimes it’s not. Here are some questions and answers to understanding the scope of food poisoning.
How frequent is food poisoning?
According to 2011 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year in the U.S. approximately 1 in 6 Americans (almost 50 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

food poisoning

What causes food poisoning?
Over 250 different foodborne diseases have been described, most of which are infections. The most common foodborne illnesses are caused by norovirus and by the bacteria SalmonellaClostridium perfringens, and CampylobacterStaph Aureus (yes, that Staph) is another prominent but less common cause of food poisoning. Poisonous chemicals or other harmful substances can cause foodborne diseases if present in food.
What are the most common symptoms of food poisoning?
Even though there are many different foodborne diseases, they share a commonality of entering your system through your gastrointestinal tract. As a result, the first symptoms are caused and expressed from there and typically include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

foodpoisoning traceback_900px

Why do foodborne diseases seem to occur in outbreaks?
Actually, the overwhelming majority of cases of food poisoning don’t occur in outbreaks, but of course you wouldn’t know that because having diarrhea is not something people typically will tell you… When outbreaks occur, it’s because a group of people happened to eat the same contaminated item. This would explain how instances of groups of friends or strangers could have been involved. Contamination that occur closest to the food supply’s distribution result in the widest outbreaks. Look at the above picture. If contaminated food from the producer makes it all the way through the distribution chain, individuals in multiple states could end up with the same infection.

   foodpoisoningfoodsimage

What foods are most associated with foodborne illness?

  • Foods that mingle the products of many individual animals: Raw milk, pooled raw eggs and ground beef have increased risk because contamination in any one of the multiple animals involved can contaminate the entire mixture.
  • Raw foods of animal origin: Foods such as meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs and unpasteurized milk are the most likely foods to be contaminated.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables: Washing reduces but doesn’t eliminate pre-existing contamination, such as that occurring from the fresh manure that fertilizes vegetables. Furthermore, water itself may be contaminated.
  • Shellfish: Because “filter-feeding” shellfish strain microorganisms from the sea over many months, they are particularly likely to be contaminated if there are any in the seawater.

An additional Straight, No Chaser will discuss treatment options. Refer to this post for preventative tips.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Abscesses (Boils)

Whether you call them boils, pus pockets or abscesses, they hurt. Abscesses are infections that localize and collect pus beneath the skin. Although previous Straight, No Chaser posts have addressed MRSA, this one will highlight your frequently asked questions about abscesses.

 abscess1

Why do I get an abscess?
Something causes an injury or sufficient irritation to your skin to allow bacteria to enter, and/or your lowered immunity can’t adequately fight back. Examples of circumstances causing skin infections that can develop into abscesses include ingrown hairs (folliculitis), insect bites and IV drug use. You are at increased risk for developing an abscess if you have diabetes, are obese, use IV drugs, have a weakened immune system or have an untreated skin infection (cellulitis).

 Abscess2

What causes abscesses?
Bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) and Streptococcus are common causes of abscesses. I’ll remind you that MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staph Aureus; this is an indication that traditionally used antibiotics don’t work against this particular strain of bacteria. MRSA should be a reminder of the dangers of inappropriate antibiotic use.

 abscess3

How do I know if I have an abscess?
Trust me. You’ll know. Typically you’ll develop a skin infection first, which could simply include pus-filled bumps that worsen to become red, warm, swollen and tender. You may develop a fever, and you will have a significant amount of pain.
Can I treat these at home?
Generally not unless you’re a physician or have access to one at home… What you can do is prevent them. Stop picking at your skin; in fact, learn to keep your hands off your skin. Use clean equipment (e.g. razors, clippers) if you shave hair from your skin.
In terms of treating abscesses at home, it is not advisable for you to attempt to cut yourself or otherwise deal with these once one has formed. Abscesses often have deep tracks under the skin that need to be explored. Whatever you’re doing to delay getting evaluated is increasing the risk that things will worsen.

abscess i&D abscess gauze

So how are abscesses treated?
There are two approaches to treating abscesses: “from the inside out” and “from the outside in.”

  • From the inside out refers to receiving antibiotics. Most abscess do respond promptly to antibiotics if you don’t wait too long to get them treated.
  • From the outside in refers to a procedure called incision and drainage (I & D). You’ll recognize this as your physician having to cut open the abscess, clean the area out and place gauze in the wound for a few days. Doing this in most cases eliminates the need to also take antibiotics. Unfortunately, I & Ds often must be done on higher risk abscesses, and in some instances, it’s necessary to have it done by a surgeon.

When should I see a doctor for one of these?
These generally aren’t getting better on their own. In particular, if you have one of the risk factors previously mentioned (diabetes, IV drug use, obesity, decreased immunity), the abscess is on or near your genitalia, is spreading fast or is extremely painful, you should be seen sooner rather than later.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress
 

Straight, No Chaser: Understanding Food Poisoning (Foodborne Illness)

FoodPoisoning

We make a decision with everything we place into our mouths. We also exhibit a large amount of trust that the food we eat is safe. Most of the time that’s true, but unfortunately sometimes it’s not. Here are some questions and answers to understanding the scope of food poisoning.
How frequent is food poisoning?
According to 2011 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year in the U.S. approximately 1 in 6 Americans (almost 50 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

food poisoning

What causes food poisoning?
Over 250 different foodborne diseases have been described, most of which are infections. The most common foodborne illnesses are caused by norovirus and by the bacteria SalmonellaClostridium perfringens, and CampylobacterStaph Aureus (yes, that Staph) is another prominent but less common cause of food poisoning. Poisonous chemicals or other harmful substances can cause foodborne diseases if present in food.
What are the most common symptoms of food poisoning?
Even though there are many different foodborne diseases, they share a commonality of entering your system through your gastrointestinal tract. As a result, the first symptoms are caused and expressed from there and typically include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

foodpoisoning traceback_900px

Why do foodborne diseases seem to occur in outbreaks?
Actually, the overwhelming majority of cases of food poisoning don’t occur in outbreaks, but of course you wouldn’t know that because having diarrhea is not something people typically will tell you… When outbreaks occur, it’s because a group of people happened to eat the same contaminated item. This would explain how instances of groups of friends or strangers could have been involved. Contaminations that occur closest to the food supply’s distribution result in the widest outbreaks. Look at the above picture. If contaminated food from the producer makes it all the way through the distribution chain, individuals in multiple states could end up with the same infection.

   foodpoisoningfoodsimage

What foods are most associated with foodborne illness?

  • Foods that mingle the products of many individual animals: Raw milk, pooled raw eggs and ground beef have increased risk because contamination in any one of the multiple animals involved can contaminate the entire mixture.
  • Raw foods of animal origin: Foods such as meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs and unpasteurized milk are the most likely foods to be contaminated.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables: Washing reduces but doesn’t eliminate pre-existing contamination, such as that occurring from the fresh manure that fertilizes vegetables. Furthermore, water itself may be contaminated.
  • Shellfish: Because “filter-feeding” shellfish strain microorganisms from the sea over many months, they are particularly likely to be contaminated if there are any in the seawater.

An additional Straight, No Chaser will discuss treatment options. Refer to this post for preventative tips.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Abscesses (Boils)

Abscess

Whether you call them boils, pus pockets or abscesses, they hurt. Abscesses are infections that localize and collect pus beneath the skin. Although previous Straight, No Chaser posts have addressed MRSA, this one will highlight your frequently asked questions about abscesses.

 abscess1

Why do I get an abscess? 
Something causes an injury or sufficient irritation to your skin to allow bacteria to enter, and/or your lowered immunity can’t adequately fight back. Examples of circumstances causing skin infections that can develop into abscesses include ingrown hairs (folliculitis), insect bites and IV drug use. You are at increased risk for developing an abscess if you have diabetes, are obese, use IV drugs, have a weakened immune system or have an untreated skin infection (cellulitis).

 Abscess2

What causes abscesses?
Bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) and Streptococcus are common causes of abscesses. I’ll remind you that MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staph Aureus; this is an indication that traditionally used antibiotics don’t work against this particular strain of bacteria. MRSA should be a reminder of the dangers of inappropriate antibiotic use.

 abscess3

How do I know if I have an abscess?
Trust me. You’ll know. Typically you’ll develop a skin infection first, which could simply include pus-filled bumps that worsen to become red, warm, swollen and tender. You may develop a fever, and you will have a significant amount of pain.
Can I treat these at home?
Generally not unless you’re a physician or have access to one at home… What you can do is prevent them. Stop picking at your skin; in fact, learn to keep your hands off your skin. Use clean equipment (e.g. razors, clippers) if you shave hair from your skin.
In terms of treating abscesses at home, it is not advisable for you to attempt to cut yourself or otherwise deal with these once one has formed. Abscesses often have deep tracks under the skin that need to be explored. Whatever you’re doing to delay getting evaluated is increasing the risk that things will worsen.

abscess i&D abscess gauze

So how are abscesses treated?
There are two approaches to treating abscesses: “from the inside out” and “from the outside in.”

  • From the inside out refers to receiving antibiotics. Most abscess do respond promptly to antibiotics if you don’t wait too long to get them treated.
  • From the outside in refers to a procedure called incision and drainage (I & D). You’ll recognize this as your physician having to cut open the abscess, clean the area out and place gauze in the wound for a few days. Doing this in most cases eliminates the need to also take antibiotics. Unfortunately, I & Ds often must be done on higher risk abscesses, and in some instances, it’s necessary to have it done by a surgeon.

When should I see a doctor for one of these?
These generally aren’t getting better on their own. In particular, if you have one of the risk factors previously mentioned (diabetes, IV drug use, obesity, decreased immunity), the abscess is on or near your genitalia, is spreading fast or is extremely painful, you should be seen sooner rather than later.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Understanding Food Poisoning (Foodborne Illness)

FoodPoisoning

We make a decision with everything we place into our mouths. We also exhibit a large amount of trust that the food we eat is safe. Most of the time that’s true, but unfortunately sometimes it’s not. Here are some questions and answers to understanding the scope of food poisoning.
How frequent is food poisoning?
According to 2011 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year in the U.S. approximately 1 in 6 Americans (almost 50 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

food poisoning

What causes food poisoning?
Over 250 different foodborne diseases have been described, most of which are infections. The most common foodborne illnesses are caused by norovirus and by the bacteria SalmonellaClostridium perfringens, and CampylobacterStaph Aureus (yes, that Staph) is another prominent but less common cause of food poisoning. Poisonous chemicals or other harmful substances can cause foodborne diseases if present in food.
What are the most common symptoms of food poisoning?
Even though there are many different foodborne diseases, they share a commonality of entering your system through your gastrointestinal tract. As a result, the first symptoms are caused and expressed from there and typically include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

foodpoisoning traceback_900px

Why do foodborne diseases seem to occur in outbreaks?
Actually, the overwhelming majority of cases of food poisoning don’t occur in outbreaks, but of course you wouldn’t know that because having diarrhea is not something people typically will tell you… When outbreaks occur, it’s because a group of people happened to eat the same contaminated item. This would explain how instances of groups of friends or strangers could have been involved. Contaminations that occur closest to the food supply’s distribution result in the widest outbreaks. Look at the above picture. If contaminated food from the producer makes it all the way through the distribution chain, individuals in multiple states could end up with the same infection.

   foodpoisoningfoodsimage

What foods are most associated with foodborne illness?

  • Foods that mingle the products of many individual animals: Raw milk, pooled raw eggs and ground beef have increased risk because contamination in any one of the multiple animals involved can contaminate the entire mixture.
  • Raw foods of animal origin: Foods such as meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs and unpasteurized milk are the most likely foods to be contaminated.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables: Washing reduces but doesn’t eliminate pre-existing contamination, such as that occurring from the fresh manure that fertilizes vegetables. Furthermore, water itself may be contaminated.
  • Shellfish: Because “filter-feeding” shellfish strain microorganisms from the sea over many months, they are particularly likely to be contaminated if there are any in the seawater.

An additional Straight, No Chaser will discuss treatment options. Refer to this post for preventative tips.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, AmazonBarnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Abscesses (Boils)

Abscess

Whether you call them boils, pus pockets or abscesses, they hurt. Abscesses are infections that localize and collect pus beneath the skin. Although previous Straight, No Chaser posts have addressed MRSA, this one will highlight your frequently asked questions about abscesses.

 abscess1

Why do I get an abscess?
Something causes an injury or sufficient irritation to your skin to allow bacteria to enter, and/or your lowered immunity can’t adequately fight back. Examples of circumstances causing skin infections that can develop into abscesses include ingrown hairs (folliculitis), insect bites and IV drug use. You are at increased risk for developing an abscess if you have diabetes, are obese, use IV drugs, have a weakened immune system or have an untreated skin infection (cellulitis).

 Abscess2

What causes abscesses?
Bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) and Streptococcus are common causes of abscesses. I’ll remind you that MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staph Aureus; this is an indication that traditionally used antibiotics don’t work against this particular strain of bacteria. MRSA should be a reminder of the dangers of inappropriate antibiotic use.

 abscess3

How do I know if I have an abscess?
Trust me. You’ll know. Typically you’ll develop a skin infection first, which could simply include pus-filled bumps that worsen to become red, warm, swollen and tender. You may develop a fever, and you will have a significant amount of pain.
Can I treat these at home?
Generally not unless you’re a physician or have access to one at home… What you can do is prevent them. Stop picking at your skin; in fact, learn to keep your hands off your skin. Use clean equipment (e.g. razors, clippers) if you shave hair from your skin.
In terms of treating abscesses at home, it is not advisable for you to attempt to cut yourself or otherwise deal with these once one has formed. Abscesses often have deep tracks under the skin that need to be explored. Whatever you’re doing to delay getting evaluated is increasing the risk that things will worsen.

abscess i&D abscess gauze

So how are abscesses treated?
There are two approaches to treating abscesses: “from the inside out” and “from the outside in.”

  • From the inside out refers to receiving antibiotics. Most abscess do respond promptly to antibiotics if you don’t wait too long to get them treated.
  • From the outside in refers to a procedure called incision and drainage (I & D). You’ll recognize this as your physician having to cut open the abscess, clean the area out and place gauze in the wound for a few days. Doing this in most cases eliminates the need to also take antibiotics. Unfortunately, I & Ds often must be done on higher risk abscesses, and in some instances, it’s necessary to have it done by a surgeon.

When should I see a doctor for one of these?
These generally aren’t getting better on their own. In particular, if you have one of the risk factors previously mentioned (diabetes, IV drug use, obesity, decreased immunity), the abscess is on or near your genitalia, is spreading fast or is extremely painful, you should be seen sooner rather than later.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Understanding Food Poisoning (Foodborne Illness)

FoodPoisoning

We make a decision with everything we place into our mouths. We also exhibit a large amount of trust that the food we eat is safe. Most of the time that’s true, but unfortunately sometimes it’s not. Here are some questions and answers to understanding the scope of food poisoning.
How frequent is food poisoning?
According to 2011 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year in the U.S. approximately 1 in 6 Americans (almost 50 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

food poisoning

What causes food poisoning?
Over 250 different foodborne diseases have been described, most of which are infections. The most common foodborne illnesses are caused by norovirus and by the bacteria Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Campylobacter. Staph Aureus (yes, that Staph) is another prominent but less common cause of food poisoning. Poisonous chemicals or other harmful substances can cause foodborne diseases if present in food.
What are the most common symptoms of food poisoning?
Even though there are many different foodborne diseases, they share a commonality of entering your system through your gastrointestinal tract. As a result, the first symptoms are caused and expressed from there and typically include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

foodpoisoning traceback_900px

Why do foodborne diseases seem to occur in outbreaks?
Actually, the overwhelming majority of cases of food poisoning don’t occur in outbreaks, but of course you wouldn’t know that because having diarrhea is not something people typically will tell you… When outbreaks occur, it’s because a group of people happened to eat the same contaminated item. This would explain how instances of groups of friends or strangers could have been involved. Contaminations that occur closest to the food supply’s distribution result in the widest outbreaks. Look at the above picture. If contaminated food from the producer makes it all the way through the distribution chain, individuals in multiple states could end up with the same infection.

   foodpoisoningfoodsimage

What foods are most associated with foodborne illness?

  • Foods that mingle the products of many individual animals: Raw milk, pooled raw eggs and ground beef have increased risk because contamination in any one of the multiple animals involved can contaminate the entire mixture.
  • Raw foods of animal origin: Foods such as meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs and unpasteurized milk are the most likely foods to be contaminated.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables: Washing reduces but doesn’t eliminate pre-existing contamination, such as that occurring from the fresh manure that fertilizes vegetables. Furthermore, water itself may be contaminated.
  • Shellfish: Because “filter-feeding” shellfish strain microorganisms from the sea over many months, they are particularly likely to be contaminated if there are any in the seawater.

An additional Straight, No Chaser will discuss treatment options. Refer to this post for preventative tips.
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Straight, No Chaser: Toxic Shock Syndrome

toxicShock1

Straight, No Chaser has addressed Staphylococcus (aka Staph) infections on several occasions; in fact, Staph is the microorganism that is responsible for all those MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staph Aureus) infections that the general public holds in such fear. Toxic shock syndrome is also primarily caused by Staph. The early take home message is you just don’t want to get this infection, and you would really do well to learn and practice preventive measures to avoid Staph infections. You may not have known it, but part of your big talks with your children about hygiene (e.g. feminine hygiene and keeping object out of your body) occur with this in mind.
Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a very serious disease combining fever, shock and dysfunction of several bodily organ systems. There was a time when TSS was a much bigger deal, back when extra absorbent tampon usage was very high. Tampon usage has declined as the dominant cause of TSS, but TSS cases are still around and are every bit as dangerous. The toxic part of the name refers to Staph (or in a similar syndrome, an organism called Streptococcus) releasing a toxin that travels through the body causing havoc. Picture a microorganism releasing a series of hand grenades into your blood stream, and you’ll get the picture.
Having an infection is not enough to develop toxic shock syndrome; not everyone with a Staph infection develops TSS. Here are risks for developing the disease.

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  • Burns
  • Menstruation
  • Presence of foreign bodies or packings (e.g. “lost” tampons, surgical tissues or any other objects in your body parts, nasal packings used to treat nosebleeds)
  • Recent childbirth
  • Staph infection
  • Surgery
  • Tampon use (especially if you leave one in for a long time)
  • Wound infection after surgery

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There’s not a lot of guesswork with a patient with toxic shock syndrome. The other meaning of toxic in the name is patients are very ill. By the time they come in for treatment, they tend to be confused with a low blood pressure. They may exhibit nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. High fever, chills, muscles, headaches and a violent-appearing rash resembling sunburn are to be expected. Untreated, the toxins can cause seizures and failure of multiple organ system of the body.
Treatment of toxic shock syndrome is complicated and critical, addressing a critically ill patient in shock, preserving the body’s organ systems, treating an infection, removing any foreign objects found and draining any infections (such as a surgical wound). Patients with toxic shock syndrome often find themselves in intensive care units, and the mortality rate (those who die) approaches 50%.
Your best bet in avoiding toxic shock syndrome is practicing good hygiene and avoiding the use of highly absorbent tampons. If you do use tampons, change them frequently (as directed); it’s just not a good idea to leave them in for extra periods of time trying to be frugal. Similarly the presence of any other cloth material retained anywhere inside of you (e.g. objects broken off in the ear, certain types of vaginal or anal instrumentation) is to be avoided. If you ever receive a nasal packing for a nosebleed, you should be placed on antibiotics at the same time. Be diligent after surgery, looking for any signs of fever or infection at the surgical site. Get significant burns treated.
This is something you should think about. Your simple steps of prevention really can be life-saving. I welcome your questions.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.