1. Dodge hospital-acquired infections

    The deadly toll of hospital acquired infections

    It's the biggest tragedy no one's talking about, killing nearly twice as many people as car accidents.

    It's deadlier than diabetes... deadlier than the flu... yet it never makes the 6 o'clock news.

    Every day, some 200 Americans are killed by infections that were given to them by their so-called medical "care" -- infections acquired from hospitals, outpatient facilities and nursing homes.

    All told, some 720,000 Americans get hospital-acquired infections every year, and close to 75,000 die from them, according to sickening new numbers in the New England Journal of Medicine.

    This is carelessness, plain and simple, because these infections are caused by dirty catheters and tubes, unclean medical equipment, filthy rooms and even the unwashed hands of doctors and nurses who should know better.

    What makes this so much worse is that many of the victims, despite being in a hospital or other care facility, weren't at death's door already.

    No, most of them were largely healthy people -- people who went into the hospital for a routine procedure, like a knee replacement, and then found themselves battling an untreatable form of pneumonia or a rare and deadly bloodstream infection.

    Since hospitals often don't protect their patients, it's up to you to protect yourself and your loved ones so that you don't become part of these grim statistics of hospital acquired infections.

    Take a probiotic supplement every day. A quality probiotic can give your body the good bacteria it needs to fight off the bad so you never get sick even if you're exposed to disease-causing germs.

    If you ever have to spend any time in a hospital -- whether it's an extended stay due to surgery or illness or an hour-long visit to a sick friend -- double up on your probiotic.

    The same rule applies if you're ever given an antibiotic, since the drugs will kill off your good bacteria and leave you prone to infection. A probiotic will help replace what you've lost.

    And finally, if you're in a hospital for any reason, use common-sense good hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water, and make sure everyone who touches you -- even doctors and nurses -- does the same.

    In theory, they should do it automatically. In reality, be sure to ask.

    After all, your life is in their hands. The least they can do is make sure those hands are clean.

  2. The deadly 'new' superbug -- and how to avoid it

    Going to the hospital is supposed to be the beginning of your recovery -- but for millions of us, it's the beginning of a nightmare.

    Close to 2 million Americans get infections in hospitals that they didn't have when they walked in, and close to 100,000 die of them.

    These people are literally killed by dirty rooms and careless care -- and new numbers from the CDC show that one bug in particular is responsible for a shocking percentage of those illnesses and deaths.

    Clostridium difficile, or C-diff for short, caused 336,600 illnesses in 2009 alone, more than double the 139,000 people infected by the bacteria in 2000. And the number of deaths from the bug has skyrocketed, from 2,700 in 2000 to more than 14,000 in 2009.

    People don't get C-diff at home. They don't pick it up in airports. And, no, they don't get it from dirty gas station bathrooms either. Nope. According to the CDC, 94 percent of all C-diff cases are connected to hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities.

    The bug is spread by contact with poop, which shows you the importance of washing your hands. And once it's on someone's hands, the spores can transfer onto walls, counters, doors, bedframes, and more -- and live on those surfaces for months at a time, resisting nearly every cleaner except for bleach.

    Inside the body, it's even stronger -- resistant to most drugs and even thriving after you take an antibiotic, since those meds will wipe out the friendly gut bacteria that can keep invaders like C-diff in check.

    Obviously, that means the best way to avoid C-diff completely is to avoid both hospitals and antibiotics.

    But that's not possible for everyone. Life happens. We get sick. We get hospitalized. And sometimes, even those of us who manage to avoid meds most of the time end up taking an antibiotic.

    And that's why you shouldn't wait to arm yourself -- take action now to protect your gut from everyday bacterial invaders, and you'll also make it better able to withstand the assault of an antibiotic.

    Dr. Mark Stengler, a leading naturopath, says that anyone taking an antibiotic needs a probiotic -- and not just any old off-the-shelf supplement (and certainly not the worthless little "probiotic" yogurts).

    Instead, take a probiotic that's actually been tested in human studies -- and even more importantly, keep taking it for at least a month after your antibiotic prescription has ended.

    Dr. Stengler added that the best probiotic for fighting C-diff is Sacharomyces boulardii -- so if you're spending any time in a care facility, be sure that one's at the top of your list.

  3. New gout 'cure' is a recipe for more pain

    If you think gout is bad, just wait 'til you see the latest "cure." This new drug treatment doesn't replace what's already out there. It's in addition to it -- so you have to take both bad meds, doubling your risk of side effects and other problems.
  4. Dirty docs spread disease

    It's the last place you'd expect to face infection risk -- but it turns out it's the one place you need to be on your guard the most. It's your doctor's office.

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