For the past two decades, hospitals around the globe have been battling an epidemic called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. There are nearly 270,000 MRSA hospitalizations every year in the United States alone. Among those hospitalized, there are nearly 20,000 deaths, making MRSA more deadly than AIDS in America. Unfortunately, many of those hospitalized include diabetics, who may be at an increased risk for contracting the disease. As numb extremities often lead to unnoticed sores, ulcers, and scrapes, MRSA is ready to take advantage of the situation.
What is MRSA?
MRSA is essentially a staph infection that’s become highly resistant to common antibiotics. That means treatment can often be challenging. Some of the more powerful antibiotics that are still able to beat MRSA have serious side effects. And if you’ve been treated with antibiotics recently, finding an antibiotic that will work may be more difficult. Infection can also mean longer hospital visits, and increase cost of treatment. Depending on the severity of the infection, you may even be at risk for amputation or death.
Scrapes, sores, and other minor wounds can place you at risk for MRSA because they’re the perfect place for an infection to take root. But there are several other risk factors to be aware of. Some of the most common include hospitalization, use of invasive items like catheters, or spending time in a long-term care facility.
What Family Caregivers Need to Know
Is MRSA contagious? The answer is largely yes. The most important thing to know about preventing the spread of MRSA is that it’s transmitted through contact. That means prevention is largely a matter of applying common sense and practicing regular hygiene. Family caregivers and their loved ones should wash their hands throughout the day and before contacting each other.
MRSA and Diabetes
For diabetics, it’s particularly important to remain vigilant about watching for minor scrapes and infections. One of the most common signs of diabetes in men and women alike is numbness in extremities, which can quickly give way to these types of minor injuries. Even a stubbed toe or a scrape on the arm could pose a serious health hazard if left undressed. Keeping a close eye on minor injuries to ensure they don’t become infected, especially in care environments, can be a critical step in preventing the spread of MRSA.
Finally, it has become good practice to test for MRSA prior to administering antibiotics. If a minor infection develops and you begin standard antibiotics that MRSA will be resistant to, you may narrow your options for MRSA treatment, give the infection more time to grow, and increase your risks of more serious complications.
Do you know of a senior with diabetes? Do you do regular checks for cuts on their feet to make sure they aren’t at risk of getting infected? Let us know some of your diabetic care regimens in the comments below.