INFECTIOUS DISEASES SIGNS AND SYMPTOMSInfectious disease include diseases such as legionnaire’s disease, bird flu, cellulitis, Lyme disease, diphtheria, malaria, measles, meningitis, HIV/AIDS, tapeworm, tuberculosis, SARS, west nile, valley fever, toxoplasmosis, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, and any other disease that is caused by the entering of a pathogen. Symptoms vary by disease, but can include fevers, pain, vomiting or diarrhea, difficulty breathing, sudden and extreme illness, weakness, or a general feeling of illness ranging from mild to severe. Infectious diseases can have widely varying symptoms from sudden onset severe symptoms to very mild and almost unnoticeable. Symptoms that are out of the ordinary should be reported to a physician.
INFECTIOUS DISEASES CAUSESInfectious disease can be caused by a virus or bacteria or in some cases a parasite or a fungus, being transmitted from one person to another. Infectious diseases are typically spread through close contact, such as hugging, kissing, sharing clothing, bedclothes, or eating utensils and cups, and being generally affectionate. Others can spread simply by touching something that an infected individual has touched. Infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS require sexual contact in order to be transmitted from person to person.
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INFECTIOUS DISEASES RISK FACTORRisk factors for infectious disease can sometimes include a weak immune system, although anyone can pick up an infectious disease with human contact. People with weakened immune systems should avoid crowded indoor areas, especially during the colder winter months. Those with a weakened immune system should avoid family members and friends who are carrying or were exposed to an infectious disease. Risk factors for sexually transmitted infectious diseases include unprotected sexual contact.
Infectious diseases can either be killers themselves, or they can contribute significantly to a person’s overall health which places them in jeopardy of death. Some infectious diseases, such as warts, have no health effects whatsoever. While other infectious diseases, like the plague, have the capacity to end millions of lives.
INFECTIOUS DISEASES TREATMENTInfectious diseases that are bacteria based can be treated with an antibiotic. Bacteria based infectious diseases include legionnaires disease, tuberculosis, and meningitis. Some infectious diseases require only supportive care to alleviate painful symptoms and to allow the body the maximum potential for recovery. Infectious diseases which are caused by viruses are not able to be treated by antibiotics. Sometimes anti-viral medication is appropriate and sometimes it is just better to allow the virus to die through the body’s natural defenses. Some infectious diseases have no cure, such as HIV/AIDS, west nile virus, and measles.
Infectious diseases are a constant threat to everyday health, and people often pick up more infectious diseases than they are aware of. Some infectious diseases can present much like the flu, and disappear within a few days to a week. Some people tend to have a higher tolerance to infectious diseases and can carry the diseases without ever feeling ill, yet they can still infect others. Typhoon Mary, a woman in the early 1900s was a carrier of typhoid fever though she never developed the disease herself.
It is important to see a qualified physician as soon as symptoms appear or as soon as the patient has been made aware of the threat of exposure. If treatment options are available for the particular infectious disease, the earlier treatment begins, the better the chances of survival or a shorter term of illness.
With any infectious disease, the patient should avoid contact with others to prevent spreading the disease. While children still need to be hugged, kissed, and cuddled while ill, the family should avoid contact with people outside the immediate family. Infectious diseases can spread even when there are no symptoms. Often exposure to an infectious disease is enough to spread the disease. If there is a family member with a compromised immune system they should see a physician when another family member comes down with an infectious disease. Infectious diseases can be very serious, or can be nothing more than mildly uncomfortable. Regardless, infectious diseases should be sequestered as much as possible to prevent spreading even the mild ones throughout the community.