Infectious diseases can be caused by organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Many organisms exist in and around our bodies. They are usually harmless and even beneficial. However, they can cause disease under certain circumstances.
Some infectious diseases can easily be transmitted from one person to another. Some diseases can be transmitted through insects and other animals. You can also get them from consuming contaminated water, food, or by being exposed to other organisms in your environment.
The signs and symptoms of infection vary from one organism to another, but they often include fatigue and fever. Mild infections can be treated with home remedies and rest, while serious infections may require hospitalization.
Vaccinations can prevent many infectious diseases such as chickenpox and measles. You can also protect yourself from many infectious diseases by washing your hands frequently and thoroughly.
Signs of Infectious Diseases
Each infectious disease is unique and has specific symptoms. The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of infectious diseases:
- Muscle pain
When should you see a doctor?
Seek medical attention if you:
- You have been bitten or bitten by an animal
- Are you having difficulty breathing?
- Are you coughing for longer than a week?
- Symptoms of severe headache and fever
- You may experience a rash and swelling.
- A prolonged or unexplained fever
- Have sudden vision problems
Causes of Infectious Diseases
You can get infectious diseases from:
- Bacteria. These single-cell organisms can cause infections such as strep and urinary tract infections.
- Viruses. Even smaller than bacteria viruses can cause a variety of diseases, from common colds to AIDS.
- Fungi. Fungi can cause many skin conditions, including ringworm, athlete’s feet, and other diseases. You may also be infected by other types of fungi.
- Parasites. A tiny parasite transmitted by mosquito bites can cause malaria. Other parasites can be transmitted from animal feces to humans.
It is easy to contract most infectious diseases by coming into contact with an animal or person with the disease. Direct contact can spread infectious diseases such as:
- Person to person. Transmission of germs, viruses, and bacteria from one person to the other is a common way for infectious diseases to spread. This happens when a person infected with the virus or bacteria touches, kisses, coughs or sneezes someone else. Although the person who transmits the germ may not have symptoms, they may be carriers.
- Person to the animal. Infected animals can bite or scratch you, even pets, and can cause serious illness. Handling animal waste can also be dangerous. You can also get toxoplasmosis by cleaning out your cat’s litter box.
- An unborn child may pass germs from mother to baby. An unborn baby can be infected by germs passed on from a pregnant woman. Some germs can be transmitted through breast milk or the placenta. During birth, germs from the vaginal area can also be transmitted.
Indirect contact can also be used to spread disease-causing organisms. Many germs can remain on inanimate objects, such as a faucet handle, doorknob, or tabletop.
If you touch the doorknob of someone who has the flu or a cold and then you touch it, you could pick up any germs left behind. You could become infected if you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth after washing your hands.
To move from one host to another, some germs depend on insects carriers, such as ticks, fleas, and lice. These vectors are also known as mosquitoes. The West Nile virus and malaria parasite can be transmitted to mosquitoes by mosquitoes. Lyme disease can be caused by Lyme bacteria in ticks from deer.
You can also be infected by disease-causing germs through contaminated water and food. This transmission mechanism allows germs to spread from one source to multiple people. For example, Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacterium that can be found in certain foods such as unpasteurized juice or undercooked hamburgers.
Although anyone can get infected, it is possible to be more susceptible if your immune system doesn’t work properly. If:
- Steroids or other medications that suppress your immune system such as anti-rejection drugs to transplanted organs are being used.
- HIV/AIDS is a serious condition.
- Certain types of cancer and other conditions can affect your immune system.
You may also be at risk from infection if you have certain medical conditions, such as implanted medical equipment, malnutrition, and extremes in age.
Many infectious diseases are not serious. Some infections, such as meningitis, AIDS, and pneumonia can be life-threatening. Some infections are linked to an increased risk of developing cancer in the long term.
- Cervical cancer is linked to human papillomavirus
- Helicobacter Pylori has been linked to stomach cancers and peptic ulcers
- Hepatitis B, and C, have been linked with liver cancer
Some infectious diseases can become invisible and then reappear in the future, sometimes even decades later. A person who has had chickenpox can develop shingles later in life.
These tips can help reduce the chance of infection.
- Wash your hands. It is particularly important to wash your hands before, during, and after cooking, as well as after eating and using the bathroom. Avoid touching your nose, eyes, or mouth with your fingers. This is a common way for germs to enter your body.
- Get vaccinated. Vaccination can dramatically reduce your chance of contracting many illnesses. Keep your children and yourself up-to-date on the recommended vaccines.
- If you have symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or a fever, stay home and don’t go to work. If your child has any of these symptoms, don’t send him or her to school.
- Prepare food safely. When preparing meals, keep the counters and other surfaces clean. To ensure that food is cooked to the right temperature, use a food thermometer. Ground meats should be cooked at 160 F (71 C); poultry at 165 F (74 C); most meats at 145 F (63 C).
Refrigerate any leftovers immediately — do not leave cooked food at room temperature for too long
- Safe sex is important. If you or your partner have a history of sexually transmitted diseases or high-risk behaviors, condoms should always be used.
- Don’t share personal items. Make sure you have your own razor, toothbrush, and comb. Avoid sharing your drinking glasses and dining utensils.
- Be smart about your travels. Talk to your doctor if you are traveling outside the country and need any vaccinations such as yellow fever or cholera.
To determine the cause of your symptoms, your doctor might order imaging scans or lab work.
Many diseases can have similar symptoms and signs. Sometimes, samples of bodily fluids may reveal the microbe responsible for the disease. This allows the doctor to tailor treatment.
- Blood tests. A technician takes a sample of blood and inserts a needle into a vein. This is usually done in the arm.
- Urine tests. You will need to urinate in a container for this painless test. To prevent contamination, it is recommended that you clean your genital area with an antiseptic pad. Then, collect the urine in the middle of the stream.
- Swabs of the throat. A sterile swab can be used to obtain samples from the throat or any other moist areas on the body.
- Take a stool sample. A lab may ask you to take a stool sample in order to test it for parasites or other organisms.
- Spinal tap (lumbar puncture). The procedure involves taking a sample from the cerebrospinal fluid using a needle that is carefully placed between the lower spine bones. Usually, you will be asked to lie down on your back with your knees bent toward your chest.
Scans of the imaging system
Imaging procedures, such as X-rays, computerized imaging, and magnetic resonance imaging, can be used to diagnose and rule out any other conditions that could be causing the symptoms.
A biopsy is a small sample of tissue taken from an organ to test for the disease. A biopsy of the lung tissue can be used to check for any fungi that could cause pneumonia.
Your doctor will be able to determine the type of germ that is causing your illness and recommend the appropriate treatment.
Antibiotics are divided into “families”, which are similar to each other. Bacteria can also be grouped together into groups of related types such as E. coli or streptococcus.
Some bacteria types are more susceptible to certain classes of antibiotics than others. Your doctor will be able to target your treatment more precisely if you know the type of bacteria that you have.
Antibiotics are typically reserved for bacterial infections because they have no effect against viruses. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to identify the type of germ at work. A bacterium, virus, or parasite can all cause pneumonia.
Overuse of antibiotics has led to many bacteria becoming resistant to some or all of the antibiotics. These bacteria are much more difficult to treat.
Some viruses can be treated with drugs, but not all. These viruses are examples:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
To treat skin and nail infections caused by fungal infections, topical antifungal medication can be used. An oral antifungal can be used to treat some fungal infections such as those that affect the lungs and mucous membranes. For people with weak immune systems and more severe internal fungal infections, intravenous antifungal medication may be required.
Many diseases, such as malaria, can be caused by tiny parasites. Although there are medications available to treat these conditions, some parasites have evolved resistance to them.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Many infections, including colds, can be treated on their own. Get plenty of fluids, and lots of sleep.
Many products claim to be able to fight common illnesses like the flu and cold. Although some of these products appeared promising during initial trials, subsequent studies could have produced conflicting or inconsistent results. There is more research needed.
Some substances have been shown to reduce the time or prevent infection.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
Before you try any product that claims to improve your immune system or fight off colds and other illnesses, make sure to consult your doctor. These products can cause allergic reactions and interactions with other medications.
Prepare for your appointment
Your primary care physician will likely be your first visit. Your doctor may refer you for the specialist treatment depending on how severe your infection is and which organs are affected. A dermatologist treats skin conditions while a pulmonologist treats lung problems.
What you can do
A list could include:
- Descriptions of your symptoms in detail
- Information about any medical issues you have had
- Information about the medical conditions of your siblings or parents
- All medications and dietary supplements you take
- Ask the doctor questions
You will make the most of your time with your doctor by creating a list. Infectious diseases: Some basic questions you should ask your doctor are:
- What is the most likely reason for my symptoms?
- What are other possible causes of my symptoms?
- What kind of tests am I required?
- Are my symptoms likely to be temporary or permanent?
- Which treatment would you recommend?
- I also have other medical conditions. These conditions are interrelated. How can I manage them together?
- Is there an alternative medicine to the one you are prescribing?
- Do you have any brochures or other printed material I could take with me? Which websites would you recommend?
What to expect from your doctor
You can expect your doctor to ask you many questions.
- When did your symptoms begin?
- Are your symptoms intermittent or permanent?
- What are your symptoms?
- Are you familiar with someone who is sick?
- Are you allergic to animal feces or have you been bitten by or scratched?
- Are you bitten by insects?
- Are you a fan of unwashed or undercooked meat?
- Are you a recent visitor to the country?