Infections

Infections and When to See a Doctor

Infections and When to See a Doctor

DEFINITION

An infection is the invasion/growth of an organism's body tissue by germs and the reaction of these tissues to the infectious agents and the contagion they release. The germs may be viruses, bacteria, fungi, yeast, or other microorganisms. Therefore, infections can occur in different parts of the body due to the different types of germs. However, it is essential to remember that although the terms infections and infectious disease get used interchangeably, they mean two other things. While infection means the invasion of germs in the body and their multiplication, an infectious disease is an illness caused by the invasion of the microorganism. Additionally, it is not all infections that end up being infectious diseases. Also, in many cases, infectious diseases are contagious from one person to the other either through contaminated food or water (indirectly) or through skin contact (directly).

CAUSES, TRIGGERS, AND PREVALENCE

Since infection is the invasion and multiplication of pathogens in the body, its causes are various agents and the body's tissue's reaction to the toxins they release and their presence. Therefore, there are four major infection causes: bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. However, the most prominent infectious agents causing infections are viruses and bacteria. Thus, the type of infection highly depends on the pathogen causing it, the method of infection, and the location of the body. For example, bacteria can enter the human body in various ways, with bacteria present everywhere. It can physically be through the mouth, nose, eyes, genitalia, and open wounds, while in other cases, it is through bodily fluids, skin contact, and airborne droplets. On the other hand, since viruses are not living organisms like bacteria, they can enter the body by encoding themselves into healthy cells. First, it is vital to realize how the body works to understand infections better. When the body gets exposed to bacteria or viruses, the immune system's responsibility is to fight these infiltrating pathogens and their toxins. Therefore, the immune system is the barrier against infectious agents. However, there are times when pathogens may overwhelm the immune system's fighting ability. During this stage, the infection becomes harmful to the body. According to the American cancer society, infections are most prevalent in people with a low immune system due to conditions like neutropenia and decreased white blood cell count. Remember, white blood cells are the central defense against infections. Additionally, other factors, including poor nutrition, lack of sleep, and stress, open people to the risk of diseases. On the other hand, poor blood circulations and incision wounds due to surgical procedures also contribute to infections. CDC points out that over 1.9 percent of people who went through operations in the U.S. between 2006 and 2008 had an infection in their surgical wounds.

PRESENTATION

Infections happen after pathogens infiltrate the body's immune system and begin to multiply. Due to the vast array of pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites, and the different body areas that can be affected, infections' presentations depend on the type of disease. For example, for a strep throat infection caused by bacteria called group A streptococcus, the result is a headache, difficulty swallowing, sore throat, loss of appetite, and a white or red patch at the back of the throat. While an infected wound or cut presents with symptoms such as swelling or warmth of the infected area, fever, swollen lymph nodes around the joints of the infected area, delayed wound healing, tenderness around the wound site, and pus forming around the wound area. On the other hand, a urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria from your skin or rectum enter the urinary tract presenting symptoms such as frequent urinating, abdominal cramps, fever, burning sensation when urinating, and cloudy fever. In comparison, pneumonia caused by bacteria such as the streptococcus pneumonia has cough, fever, fatigue or feeling tired, pain in the chest, sweating, and shortness of breath. Therefore, infections present in different ways depending on two main factors; the organism responsible and the site of infection. However, some of the general presentations of infection include fatigue, weight loss, night chills, sweat and aches and pain, fevers, and loss of appetite. Others are specific to certain parts such as the skin, including rashes, runny nose, or coughing. However, the significant difference between viral and bacterial infections is that viral infections are generally systematic. They involve more than one part or system of the body simultaneously. Additionally, their pain is termed chiefly as burning or itching. On the other hand, bacterial infections occur in a specific part or system. They include symptoms such as pain, redness, heat, and swelling.

WHEN TO SEEK TREATMENT

It is important to note that serious infections may result in several significant problems such as amputation, tissue, and sepsis. Therefore, it is always advisable to make an appointment with a doctor as early as possible since, with early detection, doctors can successfully treat many conditions. However, see a doctor if you experience; A sore throat lasting two days or more Persistent high fever or chills Severe headache, abdominal pain, or cramping Increased pain or swelling A foul-smelling wound Redness and swelling on the skin or red streaks expanding from a wound Nausea and vomiting Sudden weight loss Unusual shortness of breath Infections are dangerous when left untreated. Therefore, know what signs to watch out for. However, it is vital to visit a doctor when you suspect an infection. Additionally, you can keep wounds sufficiently covered to avoid bacterial infection and frequently wash your hand to reduce your infection rate risk.

WORK UP

Diagnosis of infection involves pinpointing the primary pathogen causing it. However, the doctor always initiates a diagnosis of infectious disease by taking a detailed medical history. Then it is followed by a physical examination of the affected area. Consequently, depending on the intensity of the infection, more complex techniques for identifying the root cause of the problem involve the culture, microscopy, and CAT scans. NMR, PET scans, or X-rays.

TREATMENT

If you are diagnosed with an infection, your doctor will give you drugs depending on the disease targeted. You will most likely get anti-infective drugs to help suppress the disease; these range from antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-parasitic drugs. However, depending on the infection's extent, type, and severity, your doctor may give you medication through an oral or injection method. After a diagnosis, it would be best to avoid foods such as Dairy products Fried Foods Excess roughages Orange juice and other sweet drinks Gluten Alcohol

POPULAR MISCONCEPTIONS

Antibacterial cleaning products will protect you from infections. Since my immune system is good, I don't need immunization. Moreover, vaccines are dangerous. I can stop my antibiotics medications once I start feeling better. If you are diagnosed with an infection, follow all the doctor's steps to avoid recurrent and, more so, persistent infections.


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