You are exposed to millions and millions of invisible germs and bacteria, but unless your name is Howard Hughes, you probably didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it—that is until MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) became the news story of the hour.
MRSA is not new; this drug resistant bacteria has actually been around for some time, primarily affecting patients in hospitals and nursing homes.
Bacteria’s resistance to drugs occurs naturally over time; however, we help speed the process by the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Your doctor can best determine whether the bug you have is a virus or bacterial infection. Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics. Misuse of antibiotics leaves you susceptible to drug resistant bugs—bugs that might otherwise have been treatable by common antibiotics had you not used antibiotics inappropriately on previous occasions.
Today it’s MRSA; tomorrow it might be some new drug resistant super bug like VRE (vanocomycin-resistant enterococci). Microorganisms, such as staph and enterococci typically reside at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Staph infections typically invade our bodies through areas of broken skin and take hold in mucous membrane like that found in the nose; enterococci typically attack the intestinal tract. In most cases, these bugs don’t cause us any problems. It is when our natural barriers and defense mechanisms break down that the problems begin.
Maintaining an environment that promotes stability for both humans and microorganisms is a good start. Bacteria, viruses and even chemicals enter the body through inhalation, ingestion and through the skin. Microorganisms prefer damp dirty places like your hands, so follow your mother’s advice and wash your hands with soap and water. If you use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, let your hands air dry. Washing your hands is probably the best possible way to protect yourself from nasty microorganisms.
Keep surfaces clean and dry. The surface cleaners sold at your local store are more than adequate to do the job. If you are worried about clean air, invest in an air purifier that distributes low-level oxidizers and superoxide ions into the air, which are able to kill microorganisms on contact.
The moral of the story is that bacteria will always be around. It is up to you to maintain your living environment in a way that keeps you healthy.
About the Author
Bill Okleshen is the owner of Energy & Environment Doctors, Inc. He is a certified infrared thermographer, a certified indoor air quality specialist and a licensed home inspector.