What Are Infectious Diseases?
These are the disorders that are caused by an invasion of specific pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
Several organisms dwell within and outside our bodies. Most of them are harmless or even provide us with certain benefits.
Some infectious disorders spread from person to person while others spread through some insects or animals.
The signs and symptoms are specific to the type of pathogen causing it, but fever and fatigue symptoms are common among them.
In this article, you will come across some of the most prevalent causes, symptoms, and types of infectious diseases. You will also gain knowledge of the available treatment alternatives and natural remedies that you can consider.
What Are The Symptoms Of Infectious Diseases?
The symptoms you will experience depends upon the type of infection you’re suffering from. Some of the general signs and symptoms common to several diseases include:
- Muscle spasms
- Sneezing or coughing
- Feeling fatigued
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
When To Consult A Doctor?
It's time to consult a doctor if you’re facing one or more of the following conditions:
- Your symptoms are worsening with time
- There is less or no improvement with natural remedies
- Prolonged cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Unintended swelling
- Severe headache accompanied by fever
- Insect/Animal bite
- Sudden vision problems
What Causes Infectious Diseases?
Some of the most popular causes of infectious diseases are listed below:
- Bacteria: These small, unicellular organisms are capable of causing several diseases such as tuberculosis, strep throat, urinary tract infections, etc.
- Viruses: Viruses are even smaller than the bacteria that attack and multiply within healthy cells. It causes a wide range of diseases, from the common cold to HIV/AIDS.
- Fungi: Fungi can cause several skin disorders like athlete’s foot and ringworm. Certain types of fungi can cause infections in your lungs or nervous system.
- Parasites: Parasites survive inside a host body and cause illness. For example, a tiny parasite is the underlying cause of Malaria, which is carried by a mosquito bite.
Person To Person: Most of the infectious diseases transmitted through direct transfer of germs like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. It can happen when an infected person coughs, sneezes, touches, kisses, etc. to an average healthy person.
The germs can also spread through the exchange of bodily fluids through sexual contact. Also, there is a chance that the infected person doesn't experience any symptoms himself but can pass on the germs to another person.
The bodily fluids spreading infection include the following:
- Nasal secretions
- Vaginal secretions
Animal To Person: Some infections can even spread from animal to person. It happens when you get scratched or bitten by an animal. It can make you feel sick, and in rare cases, the condition can be lethal.
If you tend to handle the waste produced by animals, you are at a severe risk toxoplasmosis infection. So, if you have a pet at home, be cautious while scooping out its litter box.
Mother To Child: A mother can transmit the infection to her unborn child during pregnancy. Certain germs can convey to the child through the placenta or breast milk, and make the baby sick.
Some infectious germs are present in the environment that you can come in contact with and fall ill.
It happens when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and spreads the germs into the air. When you come in contact with the surrounding and inhales the air, you can also become infected.
The infected person can also leave the germs on the doorknob or faucet handles. When you touch these things, the bugs pass on to your body, causing a specific type of infection.
The infectious germs can also spread through the consumption of contaminated food or water. A single source can infect a wide range of individuals at once.
For example, a bacterium named E.coli is present in certain food items like unpasteurized fruit juice and undercooked hamburger.
The insects that suck blood can transmit some of the zoonotic agents to humans and make them ill. It can happen through a flea, mosquito, and tick bites, which are also known as carriers or vectors.
Now let us understand the complete procedure of how insect bites can cause infection-
The insects become contaminated when they prey on infected hosts like humans, birds, or animals. When these contaminated insects bite a new host, it causes infection. Some of the diseases like Lyme disease, malaria, and the West Nile virus all transmit in this way only.
Environmental Reservoirs: Soil, vegetation, or water also comprises infectious organisms that can be transmitted to people.
- Hookworm is a disease that spreads through contaminated soil.
- Legionnaires' is an example of a disease that spreads through contaminated water.
Who Is At Risk For Infectious Diseases?
Although, anyone can get affected by an infectious disease, following are the class of individuals that are more susceptible than others:
- People with weakened or suppressed immune systems. It includes people who have recently undergone treatments for cancer or organ transplantation.
- Healthcare workers
- People who haven’t yet received vaccinations for the most prevalent infectious diseases
- People who live in or are going to visit high-risk zones where they would be subjected to mosquitos that carry pathogens like dengue virus, Zika virus, malaria, etc.
How To Prevent Infectious Diseases?
Wash Your Hands Frequently: Washing hands is particularly important before and after preparing food, before taking the meals, after using the lavatory. These are all healthy practices that you need to consider to reduce the risk of infections.
Get Vaccinated: Be updated about the recent vaccination guidelines. Make sure you and your family get the shots of recommended vaccines without delay.
Don’t Share Personal Belongings: Utilize your comb, razor, toothbrush, etc. Also, keep your dining utensils separate to reduce the risk of transmission.
Prepare food Securely: While you prepare any food, make sure the kitchen counters and surfaces are clean.
After eating, keep the leftovers in the refrigerator to keep them protected from contamination. The leftovers kept at room temperature for a very long time can be hazardous for health.
Travel Judiciously: If you’ve plans to travel across countries, you should consult your healthcare specialist and know the vaccinations you can take - like for cholera, yellow fever, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, etc.
Practice Safe Sex: If your partner has or ever had any of the sexually transmitted diseases, make sure you utilize condoms in sexual intercourse.
How Are Infectious Diseases Diagnosed?
To confirm the diagnosis of infectious disease, the doctor may recommend laboratory tests, imaging tests, or biopsies.
1. Laboratory Tests
Following is the list of all laboratory tests that may help detect the infection-causing microbe. It will help the doctor choose the best kind of treatment for your condition.
- Blood Tests: The doctor inserts a needle in the vein of an arm, and draws a little sample of blood. He then analyzes it for the presence of infectious germs.
- Throat Swab Culture: It is a test that detects bacterial infection of the throat. Some of the most common diseases of the throat include pneumonia, strep throat, tonsillitis, meningitis, and whooping cough.
- Urine Tests: You will be required to urinate into a vessel. The sample is then tested for the existence of infectious agents.
- Stool Test: You will be directed to collect a sample of your stool so that it could be tested for parasites and other infectious organisms.
- Lumbar Puncture: In this test, the doctor inserts a needle between the bones of your lower spine and collects a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid. The analysis cannot be performed safely for people with a high bleeding tendency.
In a biopsy, the doctor takes a small sample of tissue from your internal organs and examines it in the laboratory.
3. Imaging Scans
Specific imaging procedures like X-ray, CT(computerized tomography) scan, and MRI(magnetic resonance imaging) can help diagnose the infection and rule out the possibility of other causes for your symptoms.
How Are Infectious Diseases Treated?
With the above diagnosis tests, the doctor would be able to detect the germ causing your infection. Based on this, he can choose the best treatment alternative for your condition.
1. Antibiotics: Different antibiotics work best for different types of bacterial infections. So, it would be better if the doctor can detect the type of bacteria responsible for your disease.
Also, antibiotics are given to those with some bacterial infections and cause no effect on any of the viral infections.
One important thing to note is that if you use a specific type of antibiotic for a prolonged period, the bacteria develop resistance for it. It makes the condition very difficult to treat.
2. Antiviral: Nowadays, various drugs are available that you can take to get rid of certain viral infections. Some of the most prevalent ones include the virus causing the following diseases:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
3. Antifungal: Antifungal medications can help treat infections of skin, nails, and hair. You can get some of those medicines over the counter from a pharmacy shop, but for others, you’ll need a prescription from your healthcare specialist.
Antifungals are generally used to treat the following conditions:
- Athlete’s foot
- Fungal nail infection
- Vaginal thrush
- Severe dandruff
Some fungal infections that develop within the body tissues are severe and require treatment in a hospital.
Following are some of its examples:
- Fungal meningitis, which impacts the brain
- Aspergillosis, which affects lungs
4. Anti-parasitics: Some diseases like malaria happen due to tiny parasites. There are drugs available to treat such infection, but some kinds of pests have developed resilience against them.
Home Remedies For Infections
Some of the infections are mild and can be relieved by making slight lifestyle changes and natural remedies. Include the following foods in your diet, drink plenty of fluids, and exercise regularly.
- Ginger: Scientists believe ginger to be a natural antibiotic. It helps combat several bacterial infections. Studies also suggest that it can fight nausea, seasickness, and lower blood sugar levels.
- Garlic: No one is unaware of the preventive and remedial properties of garlic. It can treat many different forms of bacteria, including E. coli and Salmonella. Garlic has also proven benefits for treating tuberculosis.
- Honey: People are using honey from the time of Aristotle for the rapid healing of wounds. It has adequate amounts of hydrogen peroxide that is responsible for its antibacterial effect. It can help treat chronic wounds, ulcers, burns, skin grafts, and burn sores.
- Echinacea: Native Americans have been using echinacea for several years to heal wounds and infections. The researchers are still identifying the cause for its effectiveness. It can kill some of the bacteria, such as Streptococcus Pyogenes. The particular bacteria causes a wide range of infections, including toxic shock syndrome, strep throat, and necrotizing fasciitis.
- Clove: Conventionally, people tend to use clove to get rid of their dental pain. Recent studies have made evident for its efficacy against several kinds of bacterial infections.
- Goldenseal: Goldenseal is generally consumed in capsules or tea to treat digestive and respiratory disorders. However, it can also help cure diarrhea and some of the urinary tract issues. But, if you are currently on certain medications or dietary supplements, consult your doctor before using goldenseal.
- Oregano: Some people believe that oregano strengthens the immune system and is an excellent source of antioxidants. For this reason, they can have anti-inflammatory properties. However, scientists haven’t yet found any evidence to support the argument.
What Are Recommended Medications For Different Types Of Infections?
Below is a list of some of the most recommended medications:
Medicines For Bacterial Infections
Medicines For Viral Infections
Medicines For Fungal Infections
Medicines For Parasitic Infections
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Tags: What you need to know about infectious disease, How does bacteria cause disease, Introduction to infectious diseases