• Shruti GOCHHWAL

Infections

Infection is a condition in which a disease-causing agent enters the body. Various organisms like viruses, bacteria, and protozoa can cause infections. Infections range from mild conditions that do not require treatment to deadly diseases with high fatality rates.

Infections are also known as communicable diseases because they can spread from infected individuals to others. Infections are classified based on the type of organism that causes them.

Viral infections

A virus is a parasitic organism which enters the body. After entering, the virus multiplies rapidly. 5000 different viruses have been identified by researchers so far. Infections which are caused by viruses are known as viral infections.

Common viral infections are:

●Chickenpox

●The flu

●Common Cold

●HIV

●HPV

●Polio

●Viral meningitis

●Rabies

●COVID-19

●Viral Hepatitis

●Ebola

Treatment of Viral Infections

There are two types of treatment approaches for viral infections.

  1. Symptomatic Treatment: Some viruses do not have antiviral agents. In these viruses, symptomatic management therapy is given until the immune system of the body can neutralise the virus. The common cold is an example of where the symptoms are treated.

  2. Antiviral drugs: These are the drugs which are used to treat specific viruses. In patients suffering from HIV and herpes, antiviral drugs are used.

Bacterial infections

Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms that are present in almost all environments including the human body. All bacteria are not harmful to the body.

Bacterial infections are diseased which are caused by disease-causing bacteria.

The following are examples of bacterial infections:

●Typhoid

●Tuberculosis

●Urinary tract infection

●Bacterial sinusitis

●Pneumonia

●Gastritis

●Syphilis

●Lyme disease

●Cholera

Treatment of Bacterial Infections

The treatment makes the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics are drugs which inhibit the growth of bacteria. Many different types of antibiotics are available. The choice of antibiotic depends on the disease. Some examples are:

●Pneumonia: Azithromycin, Clarithromycin

●Urinary Tract Infection: Levofloxacin, Cephalexin

●Bacterial Sinusitis: Amoxicillin, Amoxicillin-clavulanate

Most antibiotics can be used in more than one bacterial infection.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infection is a condition in which the fungi invade the human body and affects an area. Fungi are organisms which can be found easily in our surroundings. The fungus can affect various parts of the body. However, most fungal infections infect the skin.

Examples of fungal infections are:

●Ringworm

●Athlete’s foot

●Valley fever

●Candidiasis

●Vaginal yeast infections

●Aspergillosis

Treatment of Fungal Infections

The treatment uses antifungal drugs which attack the fungus. The following are examples of antifungal drugs used in various fungal infections:

●Vaginal Yeast Infection: Suppositories of Clotrimazole and Miconazole are the most used agents.

●Ringworm: In the case of ringworms, topical agents are applied directly to the affected area. Ketoconazole is used topically. In some cases, systemic antifungal agents are prescribed. These include terbinafine and itraconazole.

●Valley Fever: Severe cases of valley fever are treated with voriconazole and posaconazole. Depending on the severity of the condition different antifungal agents can be used.

Other Infections

The three main and most prevalent types of infections are listed above. However, there are other infections. Some of these infections are:

●Prion Disease: Prions are defined as proteins which do not contain any genetic material. Under normal circumstances prions are harmless but they can become abnormal and cause infection. Prions have been linked with mad cow disease.

●Ectoparasite Infections: These are infections which are caused by ectoparasites. These include ticks, mites, mosquitoes, lice and fleas. Scabies is an example of an ectoparasite infection.

●Helminth Infections: Helminths are macroparasites. These can enter the human body and cause infections. Roundworms and flatworms are helminths that cause infections.

Symptoms of Infection

Infections can persist in many different ways. Some infections can show different symptoms in different people. The following are the common symptoms that are associate with infections:

●Fever

●Chills

●Rash

●Redness of skin

●Swelling

●Warts

●Muscle aches

●Pain especially at the site of infection

●Runny nose

Credits: Pexels Caption: A runny nose can be a symptom of an infection.

●Cough

●Upset stomach

●Fatigue

Symptoms are used in identifying the infection.

How Are Infections Spread?

Infections can spread through the following ways:

Direct Transmission

Some infections are transmitted through direct contact between an infected and an uninfected person. The following are examples through which direct transmission can occur

●Saliva

●Vaginal secretions

●Skin contact

●Semen

●Blood

●Pregnant mother to foetus

Credits: Pexels Caption: Some infections can be transmitted from pregnant mother to the child.

●Nasal secretions

Chlamydia and genital herpes are good examples of diseases which are transmitted through sexual activity.

Indirect Transmission

In this case, there is no direct contact between an infected individual and a healthy one. The transmission takes place through a medium.

Certain infections can be released onto inanimate objects such as doors, tables or even in the air. When a healthy individual comes in contact with such surfaces, the transmission of the disease-causing agent takes place.

Influenza is spread indirectly through the air.

Ingestion of Contaminated Food and Water

Food and water are major sources of infection-causing agents. Food and water can be laced with various unwanted products and transmit the virus.

Typhoid is caused by ingesting contaminated food or water.

Infected animals and Insects

Infected animals and insects can spread diseases. In most cases, these diseases are spread through the bites of the organisms. However, a bite is not necessary.

Credits: Pexels Caption: The rabies virus is spread through a dog bite.

●Rabies is spread through the bite of an infected dog.

●Malaria is transmitted when an infected mosquito bites a human.

●Toxoplasmosis can be contracted by handling the litter box of a cat.

Takeaway

Infections are conditions that have a host of types and causes. They should not be ignored. If you are suffering from any symptoms of infection then you should seek medical help.

Infections are treatable conditions but untreated they can cause significant damage.

The doctor will choose the treatment after identifying the type of infection.

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