Millions of harmless as well as not so harmless microorganisms inhabit the air, water, and the surfaces around us. From your mobile phones to clothes, wallets, office desks, there is not a single habitable place or feasible object that does not act as a refuge for these pathogens.
The natural defence system of your body that is the immune system, play a major part in preventing the attack and multiplication of these pathogens inside our body. This is accomplished by either preventing the entry altogether or producing effective antibodies against these antigens thereby killing or rendering them inactive.
However, when these natural barriers fail to provide effective protection or the pathogen is potent enough to prevent the formation of antibodies, this invasion may lead to nasty infections.
The response of the body cells to a foreign organism entering the body or the toxins released by them is termed as an infection. The foreign organism can be bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi, ticks and lice, etc. The symptoms depend on the type of organism invading the body and the part of the body they affect.
Clinical features of infections caused by organisms
Bacteria generally affect a specific part of your body. (except the virulent ones causing diseases like tuberculosis and typhoid) A bacterial infection may manifest itself in the form of redness, swelling, and fever. Some common bacterial infections include-
- Urinary Tract Infection
- Food Poisoning
- Sore throat
- Ear infections like otitis externa and otitis media
- Eye infections like conjunctivitis
- Diseases like pneumonia, typhoid, tuberculosis
- Sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis, gonorrhoea, etc.
Bacterial infections can be treated through the administration of antibiotics.
Viruses mostly affect the whole body producing a number of systemic features as in the case of common cold where it induces symptoms like body ache, high temperature, and runny nose. Some of the viral infections are-
- Common cold
- Viral fever
- Zika Virus
There is no use in the administration of antibiotics in case of viral infections.
Fungal infections are not generally dangerous except in individuals with a weak immune system or those undergoing chemotherapy. Fungal infections usually evince themselves as skin infections causing itching, peeling skin, rashes, and a burning sensation. Some of the common fungal infections include:
- Vaginal yeast infections
- Jock Itch
- Athlete's foot
Improper usage of antibiotics can destroy the good bacteria on your skin and the mucous membrane, thus making you more prone to fungal infections. So, always make sure to take antibiotics only when prescribed by your doctor.
- Protozoan infections
Certain protozoa like Entamoeba, Plasmodium, etc. cause diseases like malaria, sleeping sickness, amoebic dysentery, etc.
The eggs of Helminths or worms like roundworm, tapeworm, and hookworm can enter the body by means of tiny skin pores or through polluted food and or water. These are common in small children. Features like abdominal pain, frequent bloody diarrhoea, and loss of appetite can occur as a result of worm infestations.
Infections can be clinically diagnosed by a doctor on the basis of the presenting symptoms and signs. Certain infections do require specific pathological investigations like WIDAL test in case of typhoid, malarial parasite test in case of malaria, and MRI and spinal fluid examination in likely cases of encephalitis and meningitis. Your doctor may also advise you to go for a blood culture in case of bacterial infections so as to prescribe the right antibiotics.
Prevention of infections
A) Make sure to clean your hands with a good anti-bacterial soap or hand-wash for at least 10 seconds before and after each meal.
B) Sanitize your mobile phones once a week with a soft cloth and rubbing alcohol.
C) Avoid eating at roadside stalls and try carrying your own lunchboxes to work or college.
D) Never share personal articles like towels, comb, clothes, makeup, and earphones with others.
E) Include immuno-modulators like amla (Indian gooseberry), Tulsi (holy basil), and ginger in your diet either by consuming their juices or taking them in the form of herbal teas. These will boost the immune system increasing its disease fighting ability. Also, consume nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, pumpkin and sunflower seeds on a daily basis to keep your immune system healthy.
F) If there is a garbage pile, make sure to clean it up as quickly and effectively as possible.
G) To avoid mosquito-borne infections, always use a non-toxic mosquito repellent and mosquito nets. Also, always take a proper bath after each workout because mosquitoes have a high affinity for sweat and carbon dioxide.
H) If you are a medical or a paramedical student or professional, it is very important to protect yourself while dealing with patients. Always use good quality gloves, masks and carry a hand sanitizer. The recent case of Nipah Virus outbreak is an example of a perilous hospital-acquired infection.
I) If any of your family members show symptoms like high temperature, body ache, upset stomach, etc., it is best to immediately consult a doctor. Also, make sure to avoid contact with the patient's articles so as to avoid the spread of the infection to other members of the family.
In a tropical country like India, infections are quite common with every third person been affected by a benign or a high-risk infection. It is always a good idea to leave your health in the skilful hands of a qualified doctor. Also, never take any medicines without a doctor's advice and prescription.
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