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Blood Poisoning—How to Prevent it From Happening to You

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In the first part of this article, we looked at the ways we can get blood poisoning, and the symptoms.

I also wrote about a friend who probably developed blood poisoning from a routine visit to the dentist. In his case, because he had cancer and his immune system was damaged, he ended up getting ill from something that normally would not affect him. As I recall, his oncologist didn’t order any tests to determine if he truly had blood poisoning—he definitely had the symptoms though and he responded well to antibiotics, which is the traditional treatment.

But in most cases, if your physician suspects you have blood poisoning, he or she will do blood tests to determine the type of bacteria present in your blood. Sometimes hospitalization is required. In most cases, it is treated with oral or intravenous antibiotics.

Fortunately, there are things we can do to try to prevent blood poisoning from happening to us. The first, and perhaps most important one is being aware. Just like my friend knew something was terribly wrong after his dental appointment, we need to be cognizant of the symptoms of blood poisoning listed above and the things that may cause it to happen. Because blood poisoning can spread quickly it’s imperative that we take action right away if we think we’ve been infected.

Second, if you have a wound, keep it clean. Whether it’s a scratch, cut, or abrasion, any type of break in your skin should be well-cleaned, treated with an antiseptic of some kind (as a Mom of two active boys I like the liquid antiseptic that you can sort of squirt over the wound and then pat dry), and then keep it covered with a Band-Aid.

If you have an infection in your mouth, get in to see your dentist as soon as you can. If you have an abscessed tooth, rinse out your mouth with salt water and use a warm-water compress.

Next, ask your physician about vaccines against meningitis and tuberculosis. Some areas have them and some don’t. While they won’t prevent all types of infection, they can be helpful in keeping you free of certain strains.

If you have a boil, apply a warm-water compress to the area for 20 minutes three times a day until it bursts.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.