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How do you know if you have a staph infection?

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Knowing if a patient has a staph infection requires diagnosis by a doctor. Doctors diagnose staph infections in patients by examining any lesions and sending a sample of the diseased tissue or blood to a laboratory for testing for the bacteria, according to Mayo Clinic. The many different types of staph infections may affect the skin, digestive system, blood or other tissues.

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Staphylococcus bacteria can live in the nose and on the skin of even healthy people, states Mayo Clinic. The bacteria usually doesn't cause problems or result in minor skin infections. However, if these bacteria move into the body, they can infect the bloodstream, bones, joints, heart or lungs and can become life threatening, warns Mayo Clinic.

In order to treat staph infections, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics and may drain the infection from the site, reports Mayo Clinic. However, if the infection doesn't respond to common antibiotics, the infection may require stronger ones. Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA, is one of the strains that requires stronger antibiotic treatment. These stronger medications also have stronger side effects.

Careful handwashing is the best prevention against staph infections, according to Mayo Clinic. This requires washing briskly for 15 to 30 seconds and drying with a paper towel.

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