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Winter is Least Risky Time to Schedule Surgery

Winter is Least Risky Time to Schedule Surgery
June 15
16:37 2017

Summer may be the best time of the year for weddings and vacations, but not so much so for surgery!

It turns out that if you have a surgical procedure done during the warmer months, you’re a lot more likely to get an infection. In fact, for every five-degree hike in temperature, the rate of hospital admissions for surgical site infections goes up by 2.1 percent.

So, it certainly makes sense that if you can put off any surgical procedures until the temps start dropping again you should.

And it also makes a lot of sense — whatever time of the year it is — to follow three important steps to make sure that once you leave the hospital, you don’t have to go back to be treated for an incision that becomes infected.

Steering clear of infection

Infections these days can mean a lot more than just an annoyance that calls for an antibiotic.

Any infection has the potential to turn deadly. Thousands die in the U.S. every single year due to superbugs — microbes that have become resistant to our arsenal of antibiotics.

For example, at the beginning of the year, I told you about a woman in Nevada who died from an infection that was resistant to every single antibiotic that was available in the U.S.

So, steering clear of this kind of complication after surgery has become more important than ever before.

Recently, Dr. Philip Polgreen led a team of University of Iowa researchers in analyzing data from hospital discharges all over the U.S. that included 55 million cases over a 13-year period. And they found a clear pattern of surgical-site infections rising right along with the temps.

By the time we get to August, for example, the chances go up a whopping 21 percent! Then, the numbers start dropping again through December.

While the researchers say they’re not sure why this is, it certainly makes perfect sense that microbes are able to get a better foothold when the weather is hot and humid.

But regardless of the time of year it is when you might have surgery — from minor to major — there are three important ways you can lower your risk:

#1: Don’t shave around the surgical site. Anytime you use a razor you’re irritating your skin to some degree and can make it easier for bacteria to take hold.

#2: Follow your doctor’s orders carefully where bathing and showering are concerned. And if you’re advised to take a sponge bath, don’t take that literally! Since sponges can be breeding grounds for bacteria, use a clean washcloth each time instead.

#3: Wash your hands well before changing dressings or touching the incision area. And that’s just as important, experts say, even if you (or those assisting you) are wearing gloves.

Also don’t use any antibacterial creams or ointments that haven’t been cleared by your doctor or nurse. Often, these preparations can end up keeping your incision area damp — a perfect way to get bacteria growing.

Signs of infection to watch out for include sudden redness, swelling, drainage from the wound area, and, of course, a fever. All are indications that you need to have the area checked out immediately.

And I’ll add another way to make sure you heal better: Prior to any type of surgical procedure, make sure you get enough rest, and, as much as you can, avoid stress.

Because the best weapon against any type of infection is your own strong immune system!

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