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Learning About Preventing Surgical Site Infections

Why is it important to prevent infections?

Infection can slow healing and recovery. It can also add time to a hospital stay. You may need more treatment or surgery.

Infection can lead to sepsis, which is an intense reaction to infection. Sepsis can cause dangerously low blood pressure, and it may damage organs. It can even cause death.

Your risk of infection may be higher if you have certain conditions like obesity or diabetes. It may be higher if you smoke. You may be able to lower your chance of infection by eating many kinds of healthy foods and being active before your surgery.

How can you prevent them?

Here are some ways to help prevent surgical site infections.

  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take.

    Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.

  • Follow your doctor's instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking.

    If your doctor tells you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.

  • Follow your doctor's instructions about when to bathe or shower before your surgery.

    You may be given a special soap to use. If you're allergic to the special soap, ask your doctor how to wash your skin. Do not use lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.

  • Do not shave the area of the surgery.

    Shaving with a razor may increase the risk of infection.

  • Stop smoking at least a month before surgery.

    If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines.

  • Adopt healthy habits.

    Being in good health before surgery may help. Here are some basic steps.

    • Eat many kinds of healthy foods—grains, vegetables, fruits, and protein.
    • Be active. Being in better shape can help you recover faster.
    • Drink plenty of liquids.
    • Stop or reduce your use of alcohol.
    • If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar in your target range before surgery.

Where can you learn more?

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