We know that germs are everywhere. But gyms, locker rooms, and communal bathrooms further expose your skin to infections because of shared equipment, towels, and mats. Here are the most common bacteria or viruses you might get if you (and your gym) aren't hygienic.
1. Human Papillomavirus
This virus has many strains you can get sans intercourse; personal contact with warts or surfaces where HPV exposure has occurred can also put you at risk.
There are more than a hundred types of HPV, and they affect different parts of the body. Some HPVs cause warts that can appear on your face, arms, hands, legs, and feet; while others lead to cancer (cervical cancer in women, penile or anal cancer in men). You can get the warts from walking around barefoot in bathrooms and showers.
Get yourself vaccinated to protect yourself from HPV infections. (Note: Vaccine is a preventive measure, not a cure.)
2. Escherichia Coli
Aka E. coli, the bacteria found in our stools. It causes diarrhea, vomiting, UTI, and pneumonia, depending on where it enters your body. You can pick them up from eating food contaminated with the bacteria or coming into contact with infected gym surfaces.
To treat the symptoms, just drink lots of water. If that doesn't work, get checked up.
This bacteria is usually found in healthy human intestines and stool, and can cause UTI and pneumonia too. You get them by coming into contact with shared surfaces like mats, weights, water fountains, locker rooms, and cardio machines. Taking the right antibiotic will get make you better.
4. Staphylococcus aureus
The staph is the common cause of skin infections. These can be mild in the form of rashes, pimples, or boils. Worse case scenario is that the bacteria gets deeper into your skin and will lead to life-threatening infections like pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis.
You get the staph from gym equipment and skin-to-skin contact, but the right antibiotics should get rid of it.
5. Streptococcal bacteria
There are many kinds of strep bacteria, and they usually cause respiratory infections like strep throat and pneumonia. It's highly contagious and spreads through person-to-person contact, contact with other surfaces (equipment and locker room), and airborne droplets.
Throat infections by strep bacteria usually go away on their own.
Aka the flu. It's the virus that gives you a nose, throat, or lung infection; a fever; the chills. You get it in the air, when you inhale droplets from someone's cough or sneeze; or when you get those droplets on your hands and you touch your mouth or nose.
There's no cure for the flu, but meds can alleviate the coughing and sneezing. Be sure to rest for a few days.
Stay healthy while working out by doing the following:
1. Disinfect the machines or equipment that will come in contact with your body. Always bring antibacterial spray or alcohol and wipe handlebars, seats, and mats before AND after using or touching them.
2. Don't share bars of soap with anyone. As much as possible, use liquid soap.
3. Never share towels. Bring your own to the gym.
4. Don't go barefoot in the gym. (You don't want your feet to have contact with fungus!) Wear flip-flops in the shower.
5. Bandage your wounds. You don't want to get them infected or to infect other people.
6. Always wash your hands.
7. If you're sick with the flu, you shouldn't be sweating it out in the gym.
8. Get yourself vaccinated to protect yourself from viruses.
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