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MRSA prevention? Another reason to drink coffee and tea

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Friday, September 30, 2011

MRSA prevention? Another reason to drink coffee and tea

I sure that you have heard about the antibiotic resistant "super bugs" that are always touted about in the news, well more people than you realize are affected (around 2.5 million carriers in the US alone in 2004).  MRSA (Methecillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) is one of the most well known "super bugs".  All it means is that this form of staph is resistant to most common treatments like the cephalosporins and penicillin-family drugs.  There are drugs that can treat these bacteria, it is just a case of finding the correct one, and making sure that you take the drug for the FULL length of time that it is prescribed, to make sure we kill it all off and there is no further infection.  BUT just because you have MRSA living on your body doesn't mean that you have an active infection, you could just be colonized with it.

What is infection vs. colonization?
An infection means that the bacteria has entered your body somehow and causes a reaction within your body, such as pus in a wound, or a skin rash,  a blood infection leading to fevers and generalized malaise, which can quickly become worse if not treated.  An active infection requires treatment early on to prevent spreading it to other people and to prevent serious long term effects of the infection and death.  Colonization merely means that you have the bacteria either living in (your blood) or on (in your nose or on skin) your body and you have no reaction; you have no active infection and no idea that you even have the bacteria present.

How do I know if I have MRSA?
MRSA bacteria likes to hang out in the tip of the nares (your nose), so if you are colonized you might not know that you even have the bacteria present in your body.  You probably wouldn't know that you were colonized unless your HCP did a nasal swab to test for it, or if you were admitted to the hospital (many hospitals will swab you on admission to see if you have the infection, so that you couldn't transmit it to others).  If you have and infected wound that won't get better despite treatment with antibiotics, or if you have a skin rash that will not go away, a generalized illness that keeps getting worse, you may have to have blood cultures (a blood sample) or swabs of your wounds/base of rashes, and the results will show MRSA.

What is the treatment?
If you do have an MRSA infection, the cultures from swabs of the infection or from the blood, will then be tested to what antibiotics the infection is reactive to.  That will help to guide your treatment, and depending on the infection, your HCP will decide if you need oral or intravenous antibiotics and the length of time necessary to treat the infection.

How do Coffee and Tea come into play???
Coffee and tea have been long know to have some antimicrobial properties, in that it inhibits the growth  of various microorganisms (can be bacteria, fungus, or other little bugs).  And they were studied to see if drinking hot tea and hot coffee helped to prevent MRSA bacteria from living in peoples nares. They did a rather large study of people that didn't live in group places (prisons, barracks, boarding schools, college dorms, etc) where they could get reinfected from others easily.  They found that there was a 50% reduction in nasal carriers of MRSA when they drank hot coffee and tea!  The exact reason is unknown (perhaps it is due to hot steam in the nasal passages or due to the ingestion of these substances with antimicrobial properties).  They also looked at soda drinkers; people who drank soda had no change in rates of carrying MRSA in their nose.

So, coffee and tea drinkers, keep it up, you are decreasing your risk of carrying MRSA!  But to prevent infections, make sure to wash your hands, clean cuts and wounds, and keep them wrapped or covered while they still have not scabbed over, and make sure that you clean gym equipment before and after using it (it loves warm moist environments- so gym/sports equipment is a great place for MRSA to lurk!)  Make sure you go to your HCP with any skin rashes that don't clear, or with any wounds that aren't healing....it is better to go sooner rather than later!  And keep sipping your hot teas and coffee, to try and prevent that pesky MRSA form hanging out!

Yours in Good Health
B

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