Healthy Living – Avoiding Staph At The Gym

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Most of us probably don’t think much about getting a staph infection when we go to our local gym. Heaven forbid! Staph infection is something you only catch in the boy’s locker room, right? The truth is, staph infection is becoming more and more common, and more dangerous and can be found most commonly in hospitals but it can also be found in schools and gyms.

I think it’s worth talking about since winter is a time when many of us come indoors to escape the brutal cold and find ourselves braving the gym. And, if the gym is a relatively new environment for you, you may not be privy to gym protocol and most importantly, hygiene. You may even assume that when you walk up to an unused piece of equipment that it’s free of dangerous germs.

The next time you’re in the gym and see that big hairy sweaty guy dripping all over the bicycle in front of you – assume there have been many sweaty guys and gals who’ve been there ahead of him and that none of them have done much more than wipe a towel across the handle bars if that. All together now…Ewww! Always use the disinfectant spray gyms provide to wipe before and after you use a machine.

Here are some facts about staph:

• What to avoid: The bacteria is transmitted through person-to-person contact or by using an infected person’s belongings. So to prevent the infection, wash your hands frequently with soap and water — using soap from a bottle, not bar soap, which can breed the bacteria — or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors. And keep cuts and scrapes clean, apply antibiotic ointment and cover them with a bandage.

• Recognize: If any cut or scrape becomes red, hot or infected, see a doctor immediately. In its early stages, MRSA infections may resemble pimples or boils, and they’re commonly mistaken for spider bites. It also can manifest as a rash, and may be accompanied by fever or fatigue.

• Where it lives: About 85 percent of MRSA infections originate in health-care settings. So hospital patients should be on the lookout for the symptoms mentioned above and notify a nurse if any arise.

• Treatment: Skin abscesses must be drained by a doctor, and patients are then given an antibiotic, one of the drugs that MRSA hasn’t developed a resistance against. More serious infections may require hospitalization, intravenous antibiotics and other treatments.

Read more on the subject from Alexis Grant of the Houston Chronicle here

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