Information on Localized Infections and Systemic Infections. Learn about Infections and the Immune System.
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- What are Infections?
- Diagnosing Infections
- What Causes Infection?
- Help for Infections
- More Information on Infections
What are Infections?
Infection refers to the process by which organisms such as bacteria, fungi, or viruses enter the body and multiply. When the your immune system cannot fight these organisms off, an infection results and can cause disease.
Most infections are contracted through contact with other humans or animals, through actions such as shaking someone’s hand that is infected with a virus, drinking contaminated water, ingesting undercooked food, contracting a sexually transmitted disease, or being bitten by an animal.
Poor nutrition, illness, lack of sleep, substance abuse, trauma or prolonged exposure to cold can all encourage an infection, as they lower the body’s resistance.
Types of Infections
The infection is restricted to one particular part of the body, and areas affected are usually red, tender, swollen, and warm. A fever may develop and pus may be present at the site. Localized infections can usually be treated at home, but if not cared for properly, a more serious infection may develop and spread. Internal localized infections such as in the appendix or the heart are very serious and require prompt medical intervention.
Systemic infections are spread through the bloodstream to the entire body, and shakiness, chills, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and aches in the joints may be felt. Systemic infections can vary in severity with infections such as influenza, usually responding well to home treatment, while other conditions such as septicaemia or malaria require urgent medical attention.
The diagnosis of an infection is usually based on the physical symptoms and the patient’s history. A condition such as a cold or flu is easy to diagnose because most people are familiar with the symptoms. If necessary, various tests may have to be performed to detect infections.
Tests for Infections
- Blood tests to test for antibodies
- Cultures of samples of blood, body fluids or other material taken from the infected area
- Spinal tap to examine the cerebrospinal fluid
- X-rays and other imaging tests
What Are the Symptoms of Infection?
The symptoms of an infection depend on a number of varying factors of which the following are just a few examples:
- The severity of the infection
- Whether it is localized or systemic
- The age of the person
- Any other concurrent medical conditions
- The state of the immune system
What Causes Infection?
An infection occurs when disease-causing microbes spread and overpower the immune system.
Infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, worms and even insects such as mites and lice. These infections may be contracted anywhere – through water, in air, soil, food, from animals or insect bites, through contact with an infected person’s blood, skin or mucus, or through sexual contact.
Help for Infections
There are various treatment options that will help to reduce the symptoms of infection. Conventional medicine, complementary therapy, or natural remedies are highly effective treatments and can be used independently or together.
How to Treat an Infection Through Conventional Medicine
Over-the-counter (OTC) Drugs
Drugs such as benzalkonium chloride or bacitracin may be taken to treat minor bacterial skin infections.
Serious bacterial infections may be treated with antibiotics in topical, oral, or intravenous form. Infections caused by herpes simplex and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are treated with antivirals.
It is important that infections are treated appropriately and that unnecessary and injudicious use of antibiotics is avoided. Many of these drugs have side effects and many are often incorrectly prescribed.
How to Treat an Infection Through Complementary Therapy
- Nutritional therapy
All of the above complimentary therapies can help to strengthen the immune system and help to protect the body against infection.
More Information on Infections
Advice on How to Prevent Infection
- Eat healthily and incorporate all the major food groups into your diet
- Exercise increases natural killer cell activity, which may also help prevent infections
- Increase your intake of vitamins such as Vitamin A and C, and zinc
- Increase your exposure to fresh air and get enough sunlight each day
- Reduce stress by practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, listening to calming music, and meditating
- Excellent personal hygiene and sanitary habits reduce the risk of infection
- Practice safe sex
- Have yourself and your children immunized against infectious diseases
- Disinfect wounds and scrapes by washing and covering the wound with a natural antiseptic ointment