This is a post from the Feather archives. We lost all of our old content, so we’ll be reposting our greatest stories to keep giving you the best of our content.
Our bodies face tiny, microscopic killers on a regular basis. Many of these bacteria and viruses pose little to no threat to us because we’re wrapped in an organic blanket (our skin), and are armed with white blood cells that eat and destroy invading microbes. Our brains are protected with a liquid sheath (meninges), which keeps the bad guys out. So, we don’t think much about the common cold or a routine UTI.
Our Life Director, Alyssa Ammirato, watched a friend die from a urinary tract infection. “[My friend] had a very benign and very common UTI. It worsened quickly and began affecting her brain,” she says. “The UTI ultimately killed her.”
Ordinary diseases can turn into unexpected killers if the conditions are right. Feather Girls, it’s important to speak with your doctor about all of your health concerns. Keep a detailed list of your symptoms. Sometimes doctors, who do all that they can do, miss important details. Getting your doctor to look at your condition with fresh eyes could literally be the difference between life and death.
Deadly Common Colds
According to WebMD, the common cold poses a risk to those with heart disease. Colds affect the respiratory system, a key component in the delivery of oxygen to your blood. If your heart has to struggle to drink in and dispense oxygen to your body’s cells, your heart could become permanently damaged and even stop.
If there is heart disease in your family, ask your doctor for regular screenings. You can also determine a few of your risk factors right now by taking the Heart Risk Assessment tool provided by the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute. Some of the risk factors include:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High bad cholesterol, low good cholesterol
- Lack of exercise and physical activity
- Obesity (BMI over 25)
- Diabetes that isn’t treated properly
To ensure that a cold doesn’t turn deadly, WebMd says to inform your doctor of all medications, get immunizations against pneumonia and the flu and take good care of your body overall.
Lethal Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs develop when bacteria overpopulate in the bladder. According to Mayo Clinic, women experience UTIs more often than men. The most common UTIs are of the bladder and urethra. If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the urinary tract. An infection becomes deadly once it reaches the kidneys and begins to spread through the rest of the body.
Usually, the bacteria infecting the urinary tract system never makes its way beyond the urinary tract. In the case of Ammirato’s friend, though, the bacteria escaped and traveled to her brain. Once the bacteria had entered her general blood supply, it poked its way through the protective barrier surrounding her brain. Could this have been detected?
It wasn’t expected, so doctors weren’t looking for it. The best way to prevent a UTI from becoming an unexpected killer is to prevent the UTI in the first place or by treating it early. Some women are prone to recurrent UTIs, which could be a sign of a larger health issue and requires a discussion with your doctor.
Fatal Sinus Infections
Your sinuses are located right above your eyes, between your eyes, in your cheeks and behind your nose. Mucus traps bacteria and viruses to prevent them from entering the body. If the mucus overcompensates for an intrusion of bacteria, you have a sinus infection.
Fungus can also invade your sinus cavities. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, there are four types of fungal sinus infections: mycetoma fungal sinusitis, allergic fungal sinusitis (AFS), chronic indolent sinusitis and fulminant sinusitis. The last two require surgical removal of the fungus and a constant IV of antifungal into the bloodstream.
If a fungal spore escapes the sinuses and migrates to other parts of the body, such as the brain or lungs, the infection quickly becomes deadly. Ask your doctor about the possibility of a fungal sinus infection the next time you suffer with aching and congested sinuses. While many people don’t die from a fungal infection, it’s best to approach all illnesses with caution and respect.