• Shruti GOCHHWAL

 13 common FAQs about infections

Infection is a broad term used to describe a condition where foreign invading agents enter the host, multiply and react with the host tissues, causing undesirable and harmful effects to the human host.

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about infections:

1)  What are the types of infections/foreign invading agents?

The type of infection depends upon the foreign agent that invades the body. They are of course types:

  1. Bacterial infections caused by bacteria.

  2. Fungal infections caused by fungi.

  3. Viral infection caused by viruses.

  4. Parasitic infections caused by parasites

Foreign invading agents

Caption: Foreign invading agents

2)  What are the signs and symptoms of an infection?

Signs

Any changes in the vital signs may be caused due to any infection. These vital signs are the following:

  1. Normal body temperature- 98.6° F

  2. Breathing rate – 12-18 breaths per minute

  3. Blood pressure- 90/60 to 120/80 mm Hg

Thus, any changes in these signs could be an indicator of an infection.

Symptoms

On the other hand, symptoms are not measurable or objective. Each type of infection is subjective to different symptoms depending on factors like toxicity of the pathogen, rate or specific location of attack.

checking fever

High temperature could be a sign of Infection


Credit: pexels

Caption: High temperature could be a sign of Infection

3)  What’s the difference between “infectious” and “contagious” disease/ Are all infectious diseases contagious?

Infectious diseases are a group of diseases that are caused by pathogens. If they also happen to spread from one person to another by physical contact or through droplets, then they are also known as a contagious disease.

Thus, if an infectious disease cannot be spread from person-to-person, then it is not contagious. For example, malaria is a disease which spreads by mosquitoes and not humans.

On the other hand, infectious diseases like strep throat is an example of a contagious disease that spreads through droplets or by the exchange of saliva.

Virus, protection

face mask


Credit: pikist

Caption: face mask

4)  How can I protect myself from contagious or infectious diseases?

One can do so in the following ways :

  1. Get vaccinated

  2. Wash your hands often

  3. Wear a face mask

  4. Disinfect surfaces and sanitize your hands

  5. Prepare food safely

  6. Avoid touching animals

  7. Refrain from sharing personal items.

5)  Can an infection wear off on its own?

A person with a strong immune system can fight off most bacterial infections without the use of antibiotics. However, patients suffering from disease like liver cirrhosis have weak immune cells and the administration of antibiotics becomes necessary.

For viral infections, doctors use the “wait-and-see” approach as the body has to usually wait for the virus to run their course and eventually disappear in 1-2 weeks. It eventually disappears on its own with a few exceptions like the HIV viruses.

On the other hand, it is very difficult for fungal and parasitic infections to go away on their own and thus, must be treated with medications or drugs.

small intestine bacteria

Credit: wikipedia

Alt tag : small intestine bacteria

Caption: useful bacteria present in the gut

6)  Are all bacteria and viruses bad?

There are some beneficial bacteria that are present in your gut which provides aid to the digestive system. In fact, most bacteria are harmless, only 1% of bacteria cause disease in humans.

They are also beneficial to fight cancer cells and microbes.

Viruses, however, serve no positive effects to the human body at all.

7)  Can one distinguish between viral and bacterial infection?

A bacteria is a one-cell organelle that multiplies in the human body and usually causes infection to the ear, throat, sinus and other conditions like bronchitis and pneumonia.

A virus is like the micro-version of a parasite and lacks the ability to reproduce outside the human host. They are linked to common cold, flu and other respiratory illnesses.

However, it is impossible for the human eye to detect if they are suffering from viral or bacterial infection. The signs of these two infections are also very similar to one about. Moreover, some diseases could be caused by both, bacterias and viruses.

Hence, one must turn to their health care provider whenever they show symptoms of the following:

  1. Recurring fever

  2. Excessive yellow or green mucus

  3. Shortness of breath

  4. Symptoms last longer than a week.

girl blowing nose

Credit: pexels

Alt tag : girl blowing nose

Caption: Mucus secretion

8)  Why does my mucus turn green or yellow?

When you get an infection, the bacteria or virus damage the cell lining of your airway, where mucus is present. Once infected, the cells produce proteins that give the mucus it’s tinted green or yellow colour.

9)  Are vaccines meant for viral or bacterial infections?

They are meant for both. Vaccines stimulate the body to provide antibodies against the specific pathogen present in your body, be it a virus or bacteria.

However, viruses have a tendency to mutate and form several strains, thus it is very difficult to find vaccines for some of these viruses.


tablet drugs

Credit: pixabay

Caption: Antibiotics

10) Can I consume antibiotics as a precautionary measure?

Yes, if you consume antibiotics when your body does not require them, your body will stop responding to them. This condition is known as antibiotic resistance and if you were to ever contract an infection, your body would not allow the antibiotics to inhibit the growth of pathogens in your body.

11) Do antibiotics work for all infections?

It is important to know that antibiotics are mainly used to treat bacterial infections and some fungal or parasite infections but can never treat any viral infections.

Typically antiviral, antifungal and antiparasitic drugs are used to treat viruses, fungal and parasitic infections, respectively.

12) Why is it a secondary infection?

When a person is suffering from an infectious disease, treatments include antibiotics, antiviral, antiparasitic etc.

Sometimes these drugs will cure one infection only to cause another infection as a side-effect. This side-effect is known as a secondary infection and is usually caused by a bacteria.

person hand bandage

Credit: wallpaper flare

Alt tag : person hand bandage

Caption: care of infected wound

13) How do you know if a wound is infected and how to treat it?

Wounds get infected when bacteria grows on damaged skin. Symptoms include:

  1. Pain

  2. Redness

  3. Swelling

  4. Fever and chills

  5. Aches

Simple wounds can be washed, cleaned and dried at home but deeper and larger wounds which cause fever or chills should be examined by a doctor. If serious wounds are not treated efficiently, it could lead to other bacterial infections like sepsis, cellulitis etc.

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