WHAT IS AN INFECTION?
An infection is the invasion and growth of microorganisms (germs) in the human body. The microorganism use the body to sustain, reproduce, and colonize. These microorganisms are known as pathogens come in various forms. While there are some germs that are helpful, many are harmful and can cause infections. The most common examples include:
Infections can begin anywhere in the body as germs may spread all through it, either directly or indirectly. They can contracted and spread in several different ways, including through:
- skin contact
- the transfer of bodily fluids (e.g Sexual Intercourse or Blood Transfusion)
- contact with feces
- ingesting contaminated food or water
- inhaling airborne particles or droplets
- touching an object that a person carrying the pathogen has also touched
Infections can cause health problems, depending on where it occurs in the body. They present many symptoms which can ultimately graduate to health complications if left untreated. When the body’s immune system is strong, it can often fight the germs and cure an infection. Both bacteria and Virus are too small to be seen by the naked eye, present similar symptoms and spread similarly.
TYPES OF INFECTIONS
Most bacteria aren’t harmful to us. In fact the humanrelationship with bacteria is complex. There are bacteria inside of us that helps with our digestion. However, in other cases, bacteria are destructive, and can infect organs causing Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) which if left untreated can result in a variety of diseases, health complication and/or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Some common infections include:
- Sexually Transmitted Infections/Diseases:
- Syphilis: Symptoms include genital sores, headaches, swollenlymphnodes, fatigue, fever, aching joints. If left untreated, it could lead to sterility, blindness, memoryloss, destruction of soft tissue and bone, and in extreme cases can lead to neurological disorders, such as stroke or meningitis, heart diseases or neurosyphilis (an infection of the brain or spinal cord).
- Gonorrhea This commonly affects the urethea, rectum or throat. In women, it can also infect the cervix. Symptoms include frequent urination, pus-like discharge from the penis or vagina, pain or burning sensation while urinating. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can lead to the blockage of the fallopian tubes in women, and painful condition in the tubes attached to testicles in men, infertility for both men and women and or long-term pelvic/abdominal pain.
- Chlamydia Symptoms include burning sensation during urination, yellow or green discharge from the penis and vagina, pain in the lower abdomen, pain in the testicles and pain during sex for women). If left untreated, can result in the same problems as gonorhea.
- Urinary Tract Infection: This type of infection is not transmitted sexually. Symptoms include burning with urination, increased frequency of urination without passing much urine, increased urgency of urination, bloody urine, cloudy urine, urine that looks like cola or tea, urine that has a strong odor, pelvic pain in women, rectal pain in men) – These are predominantly caused by bacteria from the gut. If left untreated can lead to kidney infections and other complications.
- Pneumonia: This is an infection of the one or both lungs, filling them up with fluid or pus, resulting in breathing difficulties. Pneumonia can also be viral but in both instances symptoms include breathing difficulties, cough, fever, sweating, chest pains etc.
- Meningitis: This is mostly common in younger people babies, children, teenagers and young adults). If not treated quickly, it can result in blood poisoning – thereby leading to permanent brain/nerve damage or death.
- VIRUS:A virus is a microorganism that cannot grow or reproduce apart from a living cell. It is much smaller than bacteria. A virus invades living cells and uses their chemical machinery to keep itself alive and to replicate itself. Viral infections are caused when a virus enters and multiplies in its hosts healthy cells. A virus may reproduce with fidelity or with mutations; the variations in mutations is responsible for the ability of some viruses to change slightly in each infected person, making treatment difficult. Viruses cause many common human infections and are also responsible for a number of rare diseases. Example of these infections include:
- Coronavirusthis virus has many strains which cause various illnesses such as COVID-19 – A respiratory infection. Symptoms include fever, fry cough, difficulty breathing body aches, pneumonia and e.t.c)
- Common cold or flu (runny nose, Catarrh, Cough and fever)
- HIV– A virus which if left untreated leads to acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It is commonly transmitted sexually, however can be passed from mother to child, or through the use of shared objects such as needles.
- Herpes– this is a sexually transmitted virus that affects the genitals. Symptoms include pain in the penis or vagina, pain during urination, skin rashes and scabs and ulcers and boils in the groin area)
- Hepatitis– a viral infection that leads to liver damage. Symptoms include fatigue, flu-like symptoms, dark urine, pale stool, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, yellow skin and eyes and e.t.c)