The human body is host to a bunch of microorganisms – some are helpful, such as gut bacteria, while others are harmless. Infectious diseases are also caused by such organisms – bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. An infectious disease can spread from one person to another, or through another host, such as animals. Some infectious diseases happen because of contaminated water or food. If you are wondering what diseases are infectious and the common signs & symptoms, below is a guide to the basics.
Common signs and symptoms
There are a wide range of infectious diseases, and the signs & symptoms depend largely on the causing microorganism and nature of the disease. In most cases, the common symptom is fever and fatigue. Other signs include diarrhea, muscle & body pain, and cough.
When to see a doctor?
If you believe that you have an infectious disease, see a doctor immediately, especially when you have the signs & symptoms we just mentioned. In case your fever persists for more than three days, you have consistent cough, body pain and frequent headaches, you may need to see an infectious disease specialist right away. In some cases, these diseases can cause difficulty in breathing.
Common infectious diseases at a glance
Infectious diseases are triggered by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other parasites. The simplest example of an infectious disease would the common flu. Others include UTIs, heart valve infections, blastomycosis, meningitis, HIV/AIDS, malaria, pneumonia, tick-borne infections, rubella, mumps, and measles. Latest one on the list is Covid-19, which is the current cause of global pandemic and was first discovered in December 2019 in China.
What are the risk factors?
Anyone can get an infectious disease, although people with compromised immune systems are at a greater risk. If you have diabetes, heart disease, or are taking steroids, you may be more susceptible to infectious diseases, while patients suffering from cancer and HIV/AIDs may also get these diseases more than others. Age and medical history are also risk factors.
‘Can I take any precautions?’
In general, safe hygiene practices are recommended for preventing infectious diseases. For example, wash your hands frequently through the day, practice safe sex, and keep a watch on what you eat and drink. Also, some infectious diseases are related to certain regions, so traveling wisely is always recommended. For some diseases, you may consider getting shots before traveling, and if you have the signs, don’t delay in seeking medical advice.