Infectious diseases are illnesses brought on by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. Our bodies are home to a variety of organisms. They're usually harmless or even beneficial. However, some organisms can cause disease under certain circumstances.
Some infectious diseases are contagious and can be passed from one person to the next. Insects and other animals can spread some diseases. Others can be contracted by eating tainted food, drinking tainted water, or coming into contact with organisms in the environment.
Fever and fatigue are common signs and symptoms, which vary depending on the organism that is causing the infection. Mild infections may be treated with rest and home remedies, while more serious infections may necessitate hospitalization.
Vaccines can prevent many infectious diseases, such as measles and chickenpox. Handwashing frequently and thoroughly also helps to protect you from the majority of infectious diseases. A subclinical infection occurs when one's health is unaffected.
As a result, a person can be infected without contracting an infectious disease. The use of vaccines to prevent infectious diseases is a good example of this principle.
Agents of Infection
On the basis of their size, biochemical characteristics, or how they interact with the human host, infection agents can be divided into different groups. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites are the four types of organisms that cause infectious diseases.
Bacteria can survive inside the body but not in individual cells. Aerobes require oxygen to grow, whereas anaerobes, such as those found in healthy people's small intestines, can only grow in the absence of oxygen. A capsule surrounds most bacteria, which appears to play an important role in their ability to cause disease.
Viruses are not living organisms in the strictest sense. Instead, they're nucleic acid fragments packaged in protein coats that must be replicated using the machinery of living cells. Under electron microscopes, viruses can be seen, and their sizes range from 25 nanometres for poliovirus to 250 nanometres for smallpox virus. The most effective weapon against viral infection has been vaccination; some infections may be treated with antiviral drugs or interferon (proteins that interfere with viral proliferation).
Fungi are large organisms that feed on the remains of dead and decaying animals and plants. They are mostly found in soil, on soil-contaminated objects, on plants and animals, and on the skin, but they can also be found in the air. Fungi can take the form of yeasts or molds, and they can switch between the two depending on the environment.
Protozoans, unicellular organisms without a cell wall that cause diseases like malaria, are among the infectious parasites. Malaria parasites range in size from 4 micrometers (0.0002 inches) to 4 micrometers (0.0002 inches). The tapeworm, on the other hand, can grow to be several meters long; treatment aims to either kill the worm or dislodge it from its host.
While anyone can get sick from infectious diseases, if your immune system isn't functioning properly, you're more likely to get sick. This can happen if you're on steroids or other immune-suppressing medications, such as anti-rejection drugs for a transplanted organ; you have HIV or AIDS, or you have certain types of cancer or other immune-related disorders.
Other medical conditions, such as implanted medical devices, malnutrition, and extremes of age, may also make you more susceptible to infection.
The majority of infectious diseases have only minor side effects. However, some infections, such as pneumonia, AIDS, and meningitis, can be fatal. A few infections have been linked to an increased risk of cancer over time:
- Cervical cancer is linked to the human papillomavirus.
- Peptic ulcers and stomach cancer are linked to Helicobacter pylori.
- Liver cancer has been linked to hepatitis B and C.
Furthermore, some infectious diseases may go unnoticed for a long time, even decades, before reappearing. Someone who has had chickenpox, for example, may develop shingles much later in life.
Follow these guidelines to reduce the risk of infection:
- Make sure you wash your hands. This is especially important before and after cooking, eating, and going to the bathroom. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands, as this is one of the most common ways for germs to enter the body.
- Vaccinate yourself. Vaccination can greatly reduce your risk of contracting a variety of diseases. Make sure you and your children are up to date on their recommended vaccinations.
- If you're sick, stay at home. Do not go to work if you are vomiting, have diarrhea, or have a fever. If your child exhibits these symptoms, don't send him or her to school.
- Cook food in a safe manner. When preparing meals, keep the counters and other kitchen surfaces clean. Cook foods to the correct temperature, checking for doneness with a food thermometer. That means at least 160 F (71 C) for ground meats, 165 F (74 C) for poultry, and 145 F for most other meats (63 C).
Also, keep leftovers refrigerated as soon as possible; don't leave cooked foods out at room temperature for long periods of time.
- Have sex in a safe manner. If you or your partner has a history of sexually transmitted infections or high-risk behavior, always use condoms.
- Personal items should not be shared. Brush, comb, and shave with your own toothbrush, comb, and razor. Sharing drinking glasses and eating utensils is not a good idea.
To figure out what's causing your symptoms, your doctor may order lab tests or imaging scans.
The signs and symptoms of many infectious diseases are similar. Body fluid samples can occasionally reveal evidence of the microbe that's causing the illness. This aids the doctor in customizing treatment.
A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein, usually in the arm, by a technician.
You must urinate into a container for this painless test. To avoid contamination of the sample, you may be told to use an antiseptic pad to clean your genital area and collect the urine midstream.
Swabs of the throat:
A sterile swab can be used to collect samples from the throat or other moist areas of the body.
Sample of feces:
You may be asked to collect a stool sample to be tested for parasites and other organisms in a lab.
Spinal tapping (lumbar puncture):
A needle is carefully inserted between the bones of the lower spine to obtain a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid. Typically, you'll be asked to lie on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest.
X-rays, computerized tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging are examples of imaging procedures that can help pinpoint diagnoses and rule out other conditions that may be causing symptoms.
A biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of tissue from an internal organ is taken for testing. A biopsy of lung tissue, for example, can be used to check for fungi that can cause pneumonia.
Knowing what type of germ is causing your illness will help your doctor determine the best course of action.
Antibiotics are classified into "families" based on their similarities. Bacteria are also grouped according to their types, such as streptococcus or E. coli.
Certain bacteria are more susceptible to certain antibiotic classes than others. If your doctor knows what type of bacteria you have, treatment can be targeted more precisely.
Antibiotics are typically only used to treat bacterial infections because they have no effect on viral infections. However, determining which type of germ is at work can be difficult at times. Pneumonia, for example, can be caused by a bacterium, virus, fungus, or parasite.
Some, but not all, viruses have been treated with drugs. Viruses that cause the following symptoms are examples:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
Fungi-caused skin and nail infections can be treated with topical antifungal medications. Oral antifungals can be used to treat some fungal infections, such as those that affect the lungs or mucous membranes. Intravenous antifungal medications may be required for more severe internal organ fungal infections, especially in people with weakened immune systems.
Malaria is one of the diseases caused by tiny parasites. While there are drugs available to treat these diseases, some parasites have developed drug resistance.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Colds and other infectious diseases, for example, will usually go away on their own. Get plenty of rest and drink plenty of water.
A number of products claim to be able to prevent common illnesses like the cold or flu. While early trials of some of these substances appeared promising, follow-up studies may have yielded contradictory or inconclusive results.
The following are some of the substances that have been researched for their ability to prevent or shorten the duration of infection:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
This is the information on infectious diseases. There are millions of diseases on the planet, but only a few have been discovered. So, with this knowledge, we can at least stay away from these diseases and avoid complications.