Most of us will have had an infection at some time or another whether from a cut, splinter or some form of injury or infections that appear from nowhere such as a ‘strep throat’, thrush or a chest infection.
Let’s start with the basics.
An infection results from another organism entering the body which causes a disease. This can be from a dirty cut and bacteria getting in, viruses (a cold for instance), fungi & parasites.
When the body detects an invader, it activates the immune system which then attacks the bug to try and defended the body by eliminating the problem.
Typical signs and symptoms of an infection are running a temperature, chills & sweats, a cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, stuffy or blocked nose, stiff neck, visible discharge, burning or pain perhaps when urinating, swelling – the list is very long and many signs and symptoms are specific to a given illness or condition.
Some viruses are treatable with antibiotics whilst those caused by a virus are not; antibiotics work on infections caused by bacteria alone.
In terms of treating an infection, it is important to seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Whilst some infections will clear up without medical intervention, it is equally possible that they will develop and become very serious and the best time to catch an infection and get it treated is early in its cycle: the longer you leave it, the longer it takes for treatment to work.
There is, however, an increasingly concerning problem with antibiotics in that they are becoming increasingly less effective as a result of overuse since they were developed. They will not be given routinely anymore for less serious conditions and are not routinely given for things such as chest infections, sore throats or ear infections in children.
Nevertheless, even in these difficult times it is important to seek medical advice either by calling 111 or seeing your GP as there are a number of other treatment avenues that may prove beneficial.
One of the biggest dangers with any infection is the potential for it to develop into Sepsis which can be a life altering or life-threatening disease and around 48,000 people die every year in the UK from Sepsis and we’ll be looking at this in more depth next week.
More information about various types of infection can be found on the NHS website at https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/infections/