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Infection Control - Keep these Tips in Mind When Caring For a Sick Person

A patient lying on a bed with a drip stand connected.
Photo by Vittore Buzzi on Unsplash

By Dr Temitope Olayinka

When caring for a sick person, infection control is important to ensure they return quickly back to health and do not infect others around them - including you, the carer.

About Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases refer to diseases that can be transferred from one individual to the other either directly or indirectly.

Direct methods of transfer happen by contact with an infected person or the infected person’s body fluids (blood/saliva/urine etc).

Indirect methods are by transfer through a vector - that is, an agent which transmits the infection from one person to the next.

An example is the Mosquito: it is a vector for Malaria, as it transmits the parasite causing disease from an infected person to another individual.

Some common infectious diseases responsible for significant health burden in many developing countries include Lassa fever, Cholera, Meningitis and of serious concern recently - Ebola.

These are conditions that should be managed in a clinical facility rather tjan at home due to their severity and potential for rapid spread to other parts of the community.

When a person is ill with an infectious disease, preventing transmission from one person to the other is important while they get better.

This is the basic principle of Infection Control.

Infection Control is important - not just in hospital or clinics but in our homes, shops, restaurants and any other public place.

Sometimes there are conditions that don't require hospitalisation, for example, Chicken Pox or mild/moderate Food poisoning causing Gastroenteritis that can be carefully mnaged at home.

Or there is a relative who has just been discharged from hospital to recuperate at home after recent surgery or condition like stroke or heart attack.

It is now your responsibility to practice infection control while you care for your loved one - at home.


Mug, glasses and a box of tissues are the sick person's best friend.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

What is Infection Control?

Infection control simply means the things we do to prevent the transmission of infection from an infected person to another person; and control the spread of an infection.

In the case or someone recovering at home, it could also mean ensuring they do not pick up common easily transmitted illnesses from friends or family visiting.

This is because they would struggle to shake off such 'simple illnesses' as they are still in a recovery state and have a weakened immune system.

Practising Infection Control while caring for a sick person will ensure no one else gets ill (i.e. transmission does not occur) and the sick person is able to get well without contracting other infections.


Top Practices for Preventing Infection Control

Simple things to do while caring for your sick loved one include:

Wash hands.

Wash your hands with soap and water for approximately 20 seconds (as long as it takes you to sing the happy birthday song twice). Importantly, wash your hands before you take care of the sick person, and after taking care of them. Alternatively, you can use alcohol hand rubs - if your hands are visibly clean - to reduce the risk of spreading germs.

Dry Hands.

Dry your hands after washing them. Use a clean dry cloth or disposable paper rolls after washing your hands.

Keep clothes/beddings clean

Clean all used garments, even if they do not look visibly dirty. Wash all soiled garments and beddings of the sick individual and dry under heat such as the sun or hot dryer. It is important for them to be clean and dry.

Waste Disposal

Dispose of all waste properly. Put your waste in a plastic bag and take them out of the house. They should be far away from your water source, and from where you cook and eat. Ideally, to limit the possibility of spreading disease, such waste should be carefully collected from homes and treated at clearly identified refuse sites far from communal public areas.

Protect Your Hands - Use Gloves.

Use gloves when you have to be in contact with the ill person’s fluids, open wounds or soiled garments. This will protect you from getting ill yourself or spreading the illness.

Limit Contact.

Do not let everyone be exposed to the direct care of the patient. This will ensure fewer people are exposed to getting the illness. Others can help in ways that do not directly expose them to the disease.

Watch out for others.

Watch out for similar symptoms in people who are in close contact with the ill person. This is because early presentation for medical advice is very important and most times make the difference in outcomes.

Read More:

References

  1. Ucla.edu. Definitions [online]. Available at: http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/snow/cholapha_def_a.html Accessed 21-March-2019.
  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention CDC, (2012). Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health Practice; Lesson 1 - Introduction to Epidemiology [online]. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/csels/dsepd/ss1978/lesson1/section10.html Accessed 20-March-2019
  3. Collins AS. (2008). Preventing Health Care–Associated Infections. RG Hughes, ed, Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); Chapter 41. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2683/ Accessed 23-March-2019
  4. World Health Organization WHO, (2019). Infection Prevention and Control . Available at: https://www.who.int/infection-prevention/about/ipc/en/ Accessed 19-April-2019
  5. Center for Disease Control and Prevention CDC, (2019). Wash your Hands [online]. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/features/handwashing/index.html Accessed 16-April-2019

Was this article useful? Comment below and check out Why Antibiotic Resistance matters to you

Edited by AskAwayHealth Team

Disclaimer

All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly through info@askawayhealth.org

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2 thoughts on "Infection Control – Keep these Tips in Mind When Caring For a Sick Person"

  1. Infection Control – Keep these tips in mind when caring for a sick person.

    In view of the on-going pandemic and a professional in engineering with a high contact in practice or training students in practice, what additional measure must I take to prevent infection.

    1. administrator says:

      Thanks for reading. In addition to the tips on the post, social distancing, handwashing/sanitising, face masks and getting vaccinated as soon as you can. Help to keep your immune system by following the other tips in these resources:
      immunity myths
      Immune system and Covid 19
      Best Wishes.

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