Tag Archives: sepsis

Life-saving dirty secrets land MRSA in the poo

Apple girl
You have to do it when you’re little –
play dirty to play safe

Blam!

Suddenly you’re back a thousand years, toiling on a farm in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex.

That super-star tough guy Canute hasn’t arrived yet – he’s only due in Poole Harbour in September or so – it’s too hot for fighting and pillaging now.

Dirt under your fingernails

So you’re out in the fields, getting all muddy, then chopping up garlic and leeks for tonight’s meal – a bubbling stew with wine and stuff you make in that brass pot your forefathers brought over from Denmark in the last invasion.

Oh yeah, and with the leftovers, you’re going to dump in some bile from Sunniva, the family cow – your man Betlic has a nasty stye on his eye and your ancient family-recipe goo is just the thing to fix it.

He’s got to wait a week or so before you can use it though – the stuff needs to do its thing – simmer, bubble, mature, whatever. All you know is, it settles down into a kind of paste – and clears up eye infections overnight.

Amazing how things work with min resources, isn’t it?

Back then, there was no such thing as an antibiotic. Nobody even knew what “biotic” was. But when you live on the land, getting good and dirty working the soil, you learn a thing about treating cuts and scratches – or even serious injury.

Make it up as you go along

This mud makes a good poultice, mixed in with pounded comfrey. Those leaves fix your stomach ache if you boil them, then mix the liquid with goat’s wee. Chew that willow bark to fix your headache.

Natural things – and your own body’s immune system, intertwined and reacting to your environment. There are no doctors here, so injuries get trial-and-error treatments handed down through centuries.

But nobody gets sick either – their bodies have built defences to the usual soil bacteria and seasonal viruses. Bad food, of course will do it – or the bite of an animal from another area – different germs you’ve never got used to.

If a doctor examined you in some Twenty-First Century Clinic – nobody would believe the findings. You’re good to go anywhere at all – while your modern cousins are languishing with asthma, hay fever, all kinds of other coughs and sneezes – stuff you shake off without thinking.

‘Cos your immune system’s good, see. Up and running and properly tuned.

Everywhere, threats

Not like them. Allergies of all kinds they can’t get rid of. Immune systems compensating for challenges they haven’t faced for hundreds of years.

But that’s the price of modern living. Safe drinking water and plumbed sewage. Hygienic surroundings. Food produced so carefully there’s no chance of infection. No threats for your system to latch onto – so it finds substitutes.

Like, back in your pre-Canute days, who ever reacted to grass seeds? Or pollen in the air? Or flared up with bee stings? Or swelled up eating nuts?

It didn’t happen because your system knew the odds. It learnt from chewing dirt as a child. Mud and cow bile. Mud and poo – what’s the difference? Babies are tough – and self-teaching their immune systems is why.

You think your stye ointment is just for fixing eye troubles – with no idea of its other healing powers.

You don’t have MRSA in your time – methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus – there are no antibiotics for it to resist. But you don’t have the staph infections either – your eye-gop stops them too.

Body self-destruct

Count yourself lucky.

Because allergies aren’t the only thing that happen when the immune system over-reacts.

Ever heard of sepsis?

Blame it on our over-clean, over-safe, sanitised, pasteurised lifestyle. One tiny, everyday disorder and the system goes into meltdown. It’s only a throat tickle, but the body retaliates as if it’s thermo-nuclear war.

Every antibody in your whole metabolism goes into over-drive, but there’s nothing serious to react to. But everything’s gung-ho, so the body attacks itself.

Which is what happens when the immune system has nothing to do. And why 37,000 people die from sepsis every year. Not big, like cancer, but every bit as deadly – which is why heartbroken families have helped put together a trust fund to fight it.

Yeah, MRSA – and all those other hospital-acquired infections. Other bugs too, that we’ve lost our defences for – because we’re too clean-obsessed for our own good.

We’re in it now

Because it’s too late now to go play in the mud. We’re all grown up and unable to learn. A bit of dirt and we all come down with something dreadful – like our every-time-a-coconut holiday friend, norovirus.

So it’s not just MRSA that’s in the poo, it’s us.

OK, so clean-obsessed works, up to a point. Time to go wash your hands. And blast all the germs and viruses around you out of existence with a Hypersteriliser.

And that’s no secret, just common sense.

Originally posted 2015-07-01 12:11:50.

If it’s just a scratch, how come you’re in hospital?

Doctor in ICU
Forgetting to wash your hands
can cause a whole lot of trouble

A little scratch, only a paper cut. Typical office wound, like a pencil puncture or a stapler stab.

Nothing really.

Ordinarily no. You work it with your tongue and suck it better. All over, just a scratch.

Wrong.

Germs in ambush

There’s bacteria in your mouth – and bacteria on your skin. Bacteria lurking in the air all round you – and a frightening amount of bacteria on your desk.

You don’t know that of course, because you can’t see it.

So you carry on with the day pretty much as normal, remembering that paper cuts always hurt more than others – just the usual.

Except this time there’s swelling with it. Not just a scratch any more. There’s redness spreading up your hand. You feel hot and sweaty. Your head swims and you can feel the mother of all headaches on the way.

Escalating symptoms

Thankfully, someone dials 999.

They’re quick, six minutes in the most horrendous traffic.

But you’re not there. You’re upstairs in the loo, feeling like hell, shivering, fighting for breath, with your tummy squishing out the most terrible stuff non-stop. Your blood pressure is through the floor and your temperature through the roof.

All this from a tiny scratch?

The paramedics call it in, they have a fix on your condition. Their control agrees. They transport you – with siren and lights. Not even to A&E, straight to ICU. You’re on oxygen, drips and antibiotics.

It’s septic shock, a severe form of sepsis – when your body over-reacts to an infection and goes into meltdown. Your immune system is on the fritz, intent on destroying itself.

The antibiotics don’t work. Whatever the bug is that started this,  it’s immune to them – an increasing problem these days, when rescue drugs don’t work. But your medical team have seen sepsis before, they start you on a transfusion.

Impossible isn’t it? Five hours ago you were perfectly normal.

Sepsis – the unknown killer

Like Emma Straker, a beautiful 19-year old girl who had a crash infection just like you. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it, but they set up the UK Sepsis Trust in response – a charity to help victims and advise medical teams how to handle this killer illness.

It’s their emergency toolkit your team are using to treat you. Experts helping experts to save lives.

Two days later you feel like you. A little weak maybe, but well enough to go home.

And that’s when your boss tells you – never again. The whole office were with you every second of the way and they know. So you’ll see a few changes when you get back.

Hiking up hygiene

First thing is everyone reminding each other to wash their hands. Signs in the loo and little folded cards on everyone’s desk – a gentle reminder on your computer’s desktop too. Because they know, one little scratch can devastate your life, like the American lady with her cat.

The place looks cleaner too. More fresh, more sparkly. A hit team came in and blitzed the place, nailing all the germ-traps on desktops and keyboards, phones too – everywhere.

It gets blitzed every night as well, with a Hypersteriliser. When everyone goes home, it mists up the place with a germ-killing ionised gas plasma. Viruses, bacteria, all pathogens are destroyed. Every morning starts fresh and sterile.

They’ve also got a new first aid kit. They can’t stop paper cuts, but they can stop people bleeding all over the place. Those documents you were working on had to be reprinted.

So welcome back, champ – lucky you made it. Now don’t forget to tell everyone how important effective hygiene is.

Originally posted 2015-06-02 11:45:37.

Not a cold, an immune system meltdown

Girl makes refusing gesture
It’s not what you think it is – and nothing anybody wants

GPs often miss it, because it looks like something else.

A common cold, a stomach bug, or both together.

Your ordinary old 9-to-5 common ailment.

The disguised killer

And that’s often how it starts. All innocent and predictable.

But quickly downhill from there.

Your temperature spikes – 104F and climbing. Chills and shivering start. Your heart speeds up. So does your breathing. Something’s taking over and your body’s into overdrive.

It’s serious too – your own immune system over-reacting

Kinda like riot police pitching up for a parking offence. And the fire brigade. And all the other emergency services at once.

So what happens? The road gets blocked. Nothing can get through.

That’s your blood supply. Pressure dropping from congestion in your blood vessels. Too many immune molecules milling around, so flow to vital organs becomes restricted. And you’re dehydrating fast, trying to cope with it.

It snowballs alarmingly quickly.

Very sick, very fast

You start feeling dizzy and confused. Nausea and vomiting follow. So does diarrhoea. Your muscles scream in pain and you can’t talk properly. You look at yourself and your skin is cold and clammy, mottled like a mackerel. And your body’s given up on passing water.

This is intensive care stuff. If your meltdown doesn’t stop, you’re going into organ failure.

Hopefully by now the Docs have sussed what it is. Common as hell, but not easily recognised. Because it always masquerades as something else first.

It’s called sepsis – and the medics have got ONE HOUR to get six things done, if you’re not going to peg off altogether (Tweet this):

  • Give oxygen
  • Take blood cultures
  • Give intravenous antibiotics
  • Start intravenous fluid resuscitation
  • Check lactate levels
  • Monitor hourly urine output

If they can stabilise you, you’ll make it. But with sepsis, everything has to happen fast. An immune system meltdown is like the body attacking itself – and it’s so efficient, things get very serious very quickly.

How can you protect yourself?

Difficult to tell.

Your immune system meltdown can trigger in so many ways – all innocent things you hardly notice at the time. A small cut, a sore throat, a tummy twinge.

The sepsis onslaught

For some reason researchers still can’t fathom, your body reacts way out of proportion to normal. Not because there’s anything wrong with you either. It can happen to anyone – young or old, healthy or struggling with an on-going condition.

So about the best thing to do is to keep yourself healthy at all times. Eat  the right things, get proper rest and exercise, avoid smoking and drinking – and keep to healthy environments.

This last is pretty important because nearly half of sepsis cases seem to start with infection in the lungs – we breathe in something and the immune system is triggered.

We can do something about that too. Because these days, it’s possible to sterilise the space we live in so there’s no germs at all – especially the air we breathe.

It’s done with a Hypersteriliser, a wheelie-bin sized machine that mists up room spaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide. The ionising forces it to spread – and latch on to viruses and bacteria wherever they are – in the air, on a surface, or deep in some crack underneath the furniture.

Forty minutes is all it takes, depending on room size. Then ALL germs are dead, oxidised into shreds by the hydrogen peroxide – which reverts to harmless oxygen and water, then evaporates to nothing. Safe from sepsis, safe from anything.

Of course, it won’t stop an immune system meltdown once it starts. But it can stop one from happening in the first place.

 

 

Originally posted 2015-05-12 12:43:52.

Kiss goodbye to sepsis – today and every day

Lips
For the love of life,
we all need to show we care

Let every pair of beautiful lips remind you.

How beautiful life is. How much love there is in the world.

And how easily it is all taken away – with a simple scratch, a little cut, one of those nothings we never think about.

Infection – kiss of death

Because, little scratch or no, if ever the germs take over, suddenly you’re faced with raging illness.

What’s happening to you, is it a major disease? Ebola, malaria, or polio?

You can’t talk. You can’t stop shivering. Your muscles ache. You can’t go to the loo. You can’t catch your breath. You’re convinced you’re going to die. And your skin suddenly looks awful.

It’s major all right – a major infection called sepsis.

Never heard of it?

One of our biggest killers

Neither had the 37,000 other people it kills every year. Dead from infection that ran out of control and took over their bodies. Dead because antibiotics didn’t work – the bacteria that triggered everything is immune to them.

But that’s why the lips.

A beautiful girl called Emma Straker loved wearing red lipstick. Out of nowhere she came down with sepsis and died, only 19. Red lips are how she’s remembered.

Since then, concerned people everywhere have helped raise money to fight this dreadful affliction. They show their support by taking a selfie with red lips – and posting it with a donation to the UK Sepsis Trust.

Even more so today – because all over the country, it’s Kiss Goodbye to Sepsis Day.

Because with care and early enough treatment, sepsis can be beaten.

Prevention is better than cure

It starts with a simple infection.

So the best possible defence is to avoid contact with germs in the first place – not always easy, not always possible.

But at least germs can be stopped dead in any room BEFORE you step into it – sterilised with hydrogen peroxide.

Zero germ threshold, zero exposure.  All it needs is a Hypersteriliser. Daily treatment so that nothing ever gets a foothold again – in schools, hotels, restaurants, public offices, buses, trains, planes, work places, hospitals, care homes, everywhere.

So that any cut or chest infection or other minor ailment isn’t escalated by other bacteria into a raging, out-of-control monster.

People do survive sepsis. Some completely, some with a lasting disability.

Hygiene – kiss of life

Those lips can remind us that it’s possible – with kisses all over the hospital wards where sepsis is treated – kiss-marks to mark successful recovery.

Just like the walls of palm prints in Africa which proclaim “I survived Ebola”.

Sepsis is whole body infection run out of control. All of us can get it, if we’re unlucky or careless.

And all of us can avoid it – by upping our hygiene habits. (Tweet this)

That really is the kiss of life.

Originally posted 2015-04-10 16:49:32.

When will we ever get serious about hygiene?

Girl with Serious Warning
So hygiene is not sexy – neither is being dead

Serious? We never think about hygiene – let alone that it could kill us.

Washing hands, keeping clean – it’s boring, nag-nag nannying stuff. Not for grown-ups with jobs to do and lives to run.

Not sexy. Totally uncool.

Wishy-washy doesn’t touch us

We never connect hygiene with when we’re sick either.

Somehow germs get to us without any of our own doing. Nothing to do with us, we’re innocent as driven snow.

Yeah, right.

Reality is, it’s usually something we’ve eaten, or breathed in, or allowed to get infected through an injury we haven’t tended properly. And nine times out of ten in circumstances where things weren’t clean, germs were breeding and we walked right into them.

Caused by ourselves – by our hygiene blind spot.

Yeah, boring. Soap and water, who needs it?

Yet the penny never drops that we’re playing with our lives. That from germs already on our skin, even a simple paper cut could develop into sepsis, that we could be dead inside a week.

Feel-good tops being clean

No, we’re not serious. Which makes us stupid.

Because hygiene, to one level or another, saves our lives every day.

Including default hygiene. Stuff we do that we don’t even think about.

For instance, we don’t wash to get clean, do we? Too super-boring for speech.

But ritual and indulgence – that’s something else.

The long, soaking bath, the invigorating morning shower. Neither are about getting clean – we’re into the feel-good hype and extravagance of it, exactly like the soap ads offer. Treat yourself, relax, enjoy a moment of luxury.

Yeah OK, so we’re clean. But what kind of germ defence is that?

We can’t carry it with us into the day, can we? No lingering in a long, hot tub after making a Number Two at the office – that just isn’t practical. Wrong time, wrong place – we’re at work, gotta perform, go, go, go.

Which puts hygiene out of sight and out of mind, right the way through until our moment of indulgence again.

Most of the time, we get away with it too. Our bodies’ immune systems work overtime to keep us safe, glitching slightly with allergies and intolerances, but otherwise fine.

Horrible habits

Meanwhile, our bad habits run unchecked and out of control:

Because it’s not important is why. There’s billions and billions of germs all around us every day, any one of which could kill us or make us vegetables. We don’t see them, so we don’t recognise them for what they are.

Life threats.

And we just imagine that as long as we LOOK clean, therefore we are.

So we flounce through the day without a care in the world – only going near a wash basin when our bodies demand the toilet. Inconvenient, so we rush it as quickly as possible – keen to get back to the buzz of living.

Wash hands? Not even on the radar.

Not surprising either with all the limp-wristed appeals around us to do something about it.

PLEASE WASH YOUR HANDS has no sense of urgency.

No scare factor either. WASH YOUR HANDS OR DIE is a lot more appropriate.

Particularly when more and more of our miracle drugs are no longer able to pull us back from the jaws of death to compensate for our sloppy hygiene.

Antibiotic resistance is already a global nightmare. And when antibiotics no longer work, washing our hands becomes our ONLY defence against misadventures with dirt and deadly pathogens.

Dead is dead, better to live

OK, so we need to make hygiene urgent. To impress upon ourselves we really are seriously at hazard unless we see the light. Folksy symbols of washing hands won’t crack it – besides the message is boring.Electricity warning

We don’t pussy-foot around with electricity for example. Dead is dead – just as all-conclusive by a dose of harmful bacteria as it is by 30,000 volts.

And dead is what can happen to us if we don’t wash our hands.

Not that it always does – we’re more likely to be ill, sometimes seriously.

E. coli, for example naturally lives in our lower intestine and most strains are harmless. On top of diarrhoea and dehydration however, virulent strains can cause gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, and neonatal meningitis. Few people die from it, but any of those symptoms can develop complications and kill.

And count on it, faecal traces of e. coli are inevitable on many of our trips to the loo – and that’s just one of the many trillions of bacteria we have living in our digestive tract. One of the bugs we have clinging to our fingers.

Not all of them are friendly, so the life threat from sloppy hygiene is very real and we need to change our mind-set.

Get serious or face the consequences, will we ever learn?

Nobody wants to die though, so better pass the soap.

Picture Copyright: ostill / 123RF Stock Photo

Safer from terrorists than germs on your own hands

Girl on escalator
No terrorists here – but just starting with the handrail, there’s billions and billions of germs

Look around the room you’re in. How many terrorists do you see?

None, right?

Not surprising, since only 3% of all deaths by terrorism have occurred in the West.

Which means less than that in the UK – averaged at five deaths a year according to a report.

Even less in the town you live in. And probably zero in your street.

Out of sight, out of mind

OK, now how many germs do you see?

Also none, right?

But they’re there, alright. Just too small to see .

A single cell of norovirus, everybody’s favourite cruise ship vomiting bug, is 3 microns across – a 5,000th the width of a human hair. A single cell of that other tummy bug regular, escherichia coli, is even smaller at 2 microns – the same as rhinovirus, the common cold bug.

And it only takes 10 norovirus cells, ganged up together, to infect you if they get in the right place. The kind of thing you do rubbing your skin – they scrape together, 5,000 could fit on a hair – next thing you touch your eyes or your mouth, and they’re in like Flynn.

Four hours later the cramps start – and the upchucks – and the runs. Worse than any terrorists, more like the end of the world.

And these germs are floating round you EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Everywhere you look

For instance, just by being in the room, you yourself are contributing 37 million germs an hour  – just from the cloud of them that we all carry around with us.

That doesn’t include the germs already in the room either – left behind on countertops and work surfaces, clinging to cleaning cloths and sponges, piled up on phone keypads and light switches, or just floating through the air on the tiniest breeze, waiting for you to breathe them in – lighter than dust, lighter than smoke, lighter even than oxygen particles.

Which means everything you touch, you pick up more – your hands are laden with them. And you don’t want to know what happens if you don’t wash them off when you go to the loo – most of us have such bad habits, we should be vomiting our guts out every day.

Horrible hygiene

Seriously. And here’s why.

Gruesome, huh?

But even washing our hands is not enough. Because there’s viruses and bacteria still coating everything around – still breezing along through the air.

Next thing you touch, next breath you take – and they’re at you again. And it’s luck of the draw if your immune system deals with them or not – guided by the 100 trillion or so NECESSARY bacteria that you have in your own gut.

Usually these bacteria gang up together and crowd those pesky interlopers out. But not if your system’s down – you’re stressed, you have a cold, or indigestion from eating too fast, or a headache pressing in from work piling up.

Sussing the odds

So what are your chances?

In any home there are around 8,000 different TYPES of germs hanging about – in numbers from thousands to millions. Which is how come, at any one time, that there are around 300,000 germs on EACH of your hands.

300,000 times more than the number of terrorists busting in through your bedroom window.

And make no error, some of these germs are deadly. Even norovirus, usually just a few days discomfort, hospitalises 3,000 and kills around 80 people each year – from complications with severe dehydration.

Flu bugs of course, can kill even more.

So can sepsis. Never heard of it? Get complications from a simple paper cut and your whole body goes into immune system meltdown. Annual death toll in the UK, around 44,000.

And germs can cause other complications like cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory or liver disorders – accounting for 150,000 deaths a year.

More dangerous than terrorists

All of which means you’re half a million times more likely to die from germs on your hands than from terrorists attacking you.

If that happens of course, there’s not much you can do. At the end of a gun, you’re basically stuck with whatever the terrorist asks for.

But germs you can fight back against – even take them out of existence altogether.

All it takes is the push of a button on a Hypersteriliser – and a fine, dry mist of hydrogen peroxide oxidises ALL virus and bacteria to nothing.  No chance of any infection, everywhere around you is sterile.

The cops have nothing like that to deal with terrorists. But at five deaths a year on average from terrorist acts, there’s more of us die from bee stings.

OK, so you’re safe enough – at least from terrorists.

Just make sure your hands are clean before you do anything.

Picture Copyright: william87 / 123RF Stock Photo

Want to live dangerously? Get yourself a desk job

Burger at desk
54% of office people eat lunch at their desks – taking one hell of a chance with their health doing it

Looks all innocent, doesn’t it?

Your stylish office workstation, finished in beech.

With the go-getter image top performers like you deserve. Plus the company iPad.

Very sexy.

Potentially lethal

And every bit as dangerous as a bullet to the head.

Because it looks all nice and neat now. But what happens at lunch time?

Too busy to stop, huh?

So did you brown-bag a sandwich, or pop down to the greasy spoon?

Not good, eating at the keyboard. Your mobile germ transporter. OK on the first day, but very quickly home to more than 7,500 bacteria – on a desk that could be harbouring 10 million more. 400 times the health hazard of an average toilet seat.

Which means, if you get even a minor skin break – a paper cut, or a stapler stab – you could wind up with a major infection.

Because your desk never really gets cleaned, does it?

False security

The swamp-out team come in every night – to vacuum the floors and empty the waste baskets. If you’re lucky, all your desk gets is a wipe with a damp cloth. The same damp cloth as all the other desks. Really just a germ transfer from one to the next.

And that’s usually it.

Nothing behind your in-trays or any stacks of documents you might have – they don’t want to mix up important papers – or cause them to go missing.

So the dust bunnies are all still at the back there – along with biscuit crumbs from your morning coffee – and the odd chip from the fries that went with your burger. Oh, and bits of last week’s chicken coronation sandwich – and the bacon butty everybody had after the power-breakfast workshop session

All kinds of nasty goodies living in there – multiplying every day. Flu germs, norovirus, e.coli and you don’t want to know what else. Even MRSA, the one hospitals dread because antibiotics don’t work against it. There’s lots of bugs like that these days – causing doctors to tear their hair out.

And have you ever heard of sepsis? There’s no resistance against that either, like all kinds of different germs, all at the same time.

Because that paper cut could very easily fester if it gets infected.

KIller threat

And everywhere your hands rest on your desk there are likely to be more germs. Any one of which could trigger sepsis and then you’re really in trouble – a meltdown of your body’s immune system that claims 37,000 lives a year in Europe – more than those killed in road accidents.

Yes, you can die from it.

Which is why, if you want to survive an office job, you’d better carry some protection.

At the very least, a set of sanitising wipes to do your hands and all the work surfaces.

Not the general cleaning kind, they’re not good enough. Make sure it says “antibacterial” on the label, you don’t want to take chances.

Even better is to persuade the boss to get a Hypersteriliser.

Safe and sterile

Every night when you go home, it mists up the whole office space with a deep-penetrating hydrogen peroxide plasma – a kind of electrically-charged super-gas. Stuff that actively grabs viruses and bacteria out of the air, and oxidises them to oblivion.

By morning, when you come in, the whole place is sterile. No germs, nothing – you and your colleagues are completely safe.

So is your desk. After the wipe-down, the hydrogen peroxide takes out every microorganism that might be hiding there. From 10 million germs to 0 – even if you don’t properly clean your keyboard or phone.

Still not a good idea to keep eating lunch there though. You need to get out more, get some fresh air, take a break, let your mind reset while you get some exercise, feel some of the wonderful world out there.

You’re a top performer, right? And you need to keep that mind sharp and stimulated.

Not dangerous at all, more like fun.