Caregiver Blog: Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Signs of Infection to Save a Life

Article Categories: Caregiver Corner & Diseases and Conditions

Infection in patients is a serious problem, especially if they get it while receiving medical care. It can signal that a patient has a weak immune system and that there may have been lapses in staff procedures for keeping harmful microorganisms at bay. This is where the role of caregiver becomes very important, because they spend the most time with a patient.

There are many types of infections. Some are passed from one person to another. Some start from animal or insect bites. There are also those that are developed from eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Most of the above infections affect the whole body, but some are also limited to a wounded body part.

For caregivers, it is important to recognize possible signs of infections in a patient, so they can receive medications and other treatments as soon as possible. When an infectious disease is underway, being alert and acting fast on behalf of a patient can save their life!

Here are the usual signs of infections that caregivers must watch out for in a patient:

1. Fever

Fever, or an increase in body temperature above normal, frequently suggests the body is fighting off harmful microorganisms that have invaded the body. It signals that a part of the body is damaged by harmful microorganisms.

2. Chills and sweats

Chills or shivering occurs when the body tries to produce heat when it feels cold. It happens before fever or when the body temperature has significantly risen due to infection. Sweating can also happen, especially at night, which is a sign of some serious types of diseases.

3. Cough, runny or stuffed nose, sore throat

These signs and symptoms suggest that a patient may have contracted a respiratory infection.

4. A general unwell feeling

Patients who have a systemic kind of infection may feel weak and sick. They usually prefer to stay in bed instead of doing the activities they enjoy.

5. Muscle aches and joint pain

If a patient is running a fever and reports that their muscles and joints ache, it’s likely they have an infectious disease. The joints of the hips, knees, elbows, arms, or feet may hurt. The patient may also experience muscle aches all over the body, especially in the arms, legs, and back. Note that joint and muscle pains caused by infection are different from what is experienced after heavy exercise.

6. Stiff neck

When a patient has a high fever and is complaining that their neck is difficult and painful to bend, this is a sign of a serious infection.

7. Painful urination

Painful urination indicates that a patient’s bladder or kidneys have become infected. The patient might also have reddish urine.

8. Vomiting and diarrhea

If a patient ate or drank something bad that the body cannot fight off, they will likely experience vomiting and loose bowel movements. The patient can also suffer abdominal cramps.

9. Pus buildup in a wound, with a reddish and sore surrounding area

If a patient has a wound with a thick, yellowish or greenish substance and if the surrounding area is reddish and swollen, the wound is likely infected.

Caregivers are an important part of the healthcare team and can spot the earliest signs of a problem such as infection in a patient. Other than knowing the most common signs, caregivers should also immediately report patient complaints and their observations to the supervisor so the patient may receive the right treatment.


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