Most of us will have had an infection at some point in our lives. Things like ear infections and chest infections are fairly common and shouldn’t cause you too much of a problem most of the time. You’ll probably just have to take some antibiotics for a while and you’ll be fine. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg and infections can be a lot more dangerous than you realize.
What Is An Infection?
Understanding what exactly an infection is can help you to avoid getting them. The basic definition of an infection is the reaction that your body has when a foreign object of some kind invades it. Once that pathogen gets into your body and starts to multiply, you’ll get an infection. There are all sorts of pathogens that can cause infections including bacteria, fungus or viruses. You’re constantly coming into contact with pathogens in everyday life so avoiding them completely isn’t always possible. They can get into your body through skin contact, bodily fluids, inhaling airborne particles or touching objects that other people with infections have touched.
There are a few differences in pathogens that you should be aware of. Viruses are the fastest spreading form of infection and they are the cause of a lot of the more common illnesses that you find in day to day life. The common cold and warts, for example, are caused by viruses. However, there are a lot more serious conditions that are caused by viruses like meningitis or Hepatitis C. The major difference between a virus and a bacteria is that a bacteria can survive longer without a host. That means you’re more likely to pick up a virus from another person. Whereas a bacteria can easily be transferred from objects that have been touched by others, or through airborne particles.
Bacteria can also survive in almost any environment including extreme temperatures and some can even withstand a huge amount of radiation. That means that you are in danger of picking up bacteria from almost anywhere. The biggest misconception that people have about bacteria, however, is that they’re all bad. Bacteria actually play a very important role in the body and having the right amount of good bacteria is key to being healthy. This misunderstanding of bacteria has led to a huge rise in antibacterial cleaning products that kill all bacteria, good and bad, and that can cause health problems in itself. Researchers have linked this increased focus on killing all bacteria to a rise in allergies because small amounts of bacteria help to train the immune system.
The Worst Infections
While some infections can be solved with a few weeks of antibiotics, there are some far more serious ones. Encephalomalacia is often described as a pathological softening of the brain but that’s not always the best description. It’s often caused by a head injury or a stroke but it can be caused by a serious infection. It causes serious damage to the brain which can lead to a whole host of symptoms including loss of coordination, sleepwalking, memory loss or mood swings. The worst thing about this condition is that there aren’t really any treatments for it at the moment so if you get an infection that leads to Encephalomalacia, the changes can be for life.
Another serious infection that you’ve probably heard of is influenza or the Spanish flu. A lot of people misunderstand what the flu is and think that it’s just a really bad cold but it’s far more serious than that. A normal case of flu won’t put you in any danger and most people are going to get it a couple of times in their life, but there are far more dangerous forms of flu that can be life-threatening.
How To Avoid Infections
While it’s not that likely that you’ll catch some of the worst infections out there, it could still happen. That’s why it’s important that you take the necessary steps to prevent infections. Good hygiene is the number one way to avoid infections and it’s easy to keep up with. Washing your hands after you’ve come into contact with anything that could be carrying infections is the most obvious way to keep yourself safe. Cuts and scratches are another big cause of infection if you don’t handle them properly. Even if it’s just a small cut, it’s important that you clean it out with antibacterial solution and cover it so no pathogens can get inside.
If you want to stay on top of your health, it’s important that you are aware of the causes of infections and know how to prevent them.