An infection is an illness or disease resulting from the invasion and growth of pathogens in the body. The pathogens may have entered the body from an inanimate object such as a doorknob or from another person who has a contagious disease. For example, it can be the common cold, the flu, chickenpox, hepatitis, and others. Infections are caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites that enter the body and multiply.
A local infection occurs in one body part such as an infected wound. When an infection involves the whole body (systemic infection), the person affected would have generalized signs and symptoms of infection. A good way to prevent yourself from getting sick is to know how infections are transmitted.
Signs and Symptoms of Infection
Fatigue and loss of energy
Increased pulse and respiration
Cough, sore throat, and runny nose
Fever and chills
Aches and pain
Nausea and vomiting
Loss of appetite
Redness and swelling
Everyone gets infections sometimes but your immune system protects you when you have had a particular cold virus for a long time. The common cold will not kill you but influenza and also pneumonia will. Most microbes enter the body through the nose, mouth, ears, anus, and genitals. They can also be transmitted by insect or animal bites. It’s largely up to you to protect yourself and prevent infections from entering the body. You may better resist infections by eating a well balanced and nutritious diet, regular exercise, and keeping a positive attitude.
Who is at risk for infections
Older adults are especially at risk for infections because of age-related changes taking place in their bodies. If they had serious health issues before they were infected, they are more likely than younger adults to become seriously ill or even die from an infection. Older adults’ immune systems are not as capable as the immune system of younger healthier people to fight infections, for example, pneumonia and influenza.
Factors that increase the risk of infection: The very young and the very old are at risk, poor nutrition, stress, lack of sleep, many disease and treatments which weaken the immune system, certain medications, open wounds, close contact with people who have communicable diseases.
Some people remain healthy because of their strong immune response. They have no other illnesses or infections but the pathogen can be present in their body which can be transmitted to others who have a weakened immune system, such as other illnesses. When a person is exposed to the pathogen, the period between the exposure to the pathogen and the beginning of illness is called the incubation period which lasts a short time or can even last for many years.
The incubation period: During this time, the person can transfer the pathogen to others. When a person is at risk of transferring the pathogens to other people, it is known as the communicable phase where others can catch the illness.
Simple precautions to avoid infections
Following basic principles can help anyone to prevent infections. Know-how and where pathogens are entering the body and know what to do to prevent it from spreading to others. It’s very important to build a stronger Immune System to fight against infections, so let’s begin.
Eat to build up your immunity: Eating the right foods consisting of lots of fruits and vegetables is good to strengthen the immune system to fight against infections, such as green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, carrots, and pumpkin.
Vitamin A: Beta carotene found in carrots and other yellow-orange foods, is a good way to get vitamin A. Vitamin A helps strengthen your body’s immune defenses. The body uses vitamin A to keep mucous membranes soft and moist. These membranes line your nose, mouth, throat, and other parts of your body, which are your first line of defense against infection. Because they are moist, they’re able to trap viruses before they get into your system.
Folate: Folate is a vitamin B vitamin. It is an essential nutrient. It helps the nerves function properly and is required to make special white blood cells to fight infections. Leafy greens are a good source of folate. Artichoke, Okra, squash, and spinach are also included.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that prevents viruses before they can do any damage to the body. It appears to strengthen white blood cells, which are essential for fighting infection. Studies have shown that eating plenty of vitamin C helps maintain healthy skin and strong immunity against bacteria and viruses. Taking extra vitamin C in your diet has been proven to relieve colds symptoms. Citrus fruits, broccoli, guava, strawberries, radishes, and juices are good sources.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E plays a big role in boosting immunity. The body uses vitamin E to fight bacteria, viruses, and even cancer cells and helps to control inflammation. Good sources of this vitamin include dark green leafy vegetables, walnuts, pecans, peanut butter, and vegetable oils. Sunflower seeds and wheat germ are also rich in vitamin E.
Iron: Iron helps with the building of white blood cells. Low iron levels have been linked with increased risk of virus infections. Good sources of iron are beef liver, dark meat turkey, broiled lean ground beef, boiled lima beans, dried sunflower seeds, raisins, prunes, cooked broccoli, cooked spinach, and iron itself. Iron cookware is best to use when cooking.
Zinc: Zinc is very important for keeping your immunity strong. Not getting enough zinc can lead to a decrease in white blood cells that fight infection and this can increase your risk of getting an infection. Zinc also aids in your senses of smell and taste. Include foods such as beef, seafood, and pumpkin seeds in your diet.
Your first line of defense to prevent infections
Your number one line of defense is to protect yourself and others from getting infections. Prevent infections before it spreads to your family and others. Take the following simple precautions to keep yourself and others protected.
Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
Stay home when you are ill.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Infectious diseases are a leading cause of illness and also death worldwide and for this reason, it’s very hard to avoid getting sick with an infection. If you suspect that you are affected, don’t delay, call your doctor right away. If you are having symptoms of a high fever, difficulty breathing and other symptoms it can also be caused by other conditions such as pneumonia and heart disease. See your doctor immediately if you suspect an infection. I do hope this article will help you from getting an infection. Keep Well!