Learn what you need to know about common infections

Learn what you need to do about common infections.



Infection: An Introduction

Infectious germs are everywhere. When these germs infect body, the result can be anything from a runny nose to an illness requiring hospitalization. Once inside, infection germs multiply, forcing the immune system to fight the illness. While infection refers to the multiplication of bad germs in the body, disease occurs when cells are damaged. Symptoms of an illness are usually first noticed when cells are damaged by infections. Bacterias and viruses are behind most common infections. Each results in a different type of condition and requires a different form of treatment.

Bacterial Infection

Bacteria are one-celled organizations that love to live inside the human body. While many bacterias are healthy for the body, others are not and can infect the body. Bacterias reproduce rapidly and can poison cells and cause illnesses due to infections. Most sexually-transmitted diseases are bacterias including gonorrhea and chlamydia. Urinary tract infections, lyme disease and many skin diseases are also caused by bacterias. A bacterial infection is usually treated with a specific antibiotic that targets only harmful bacteria will protecting healthy bacteria.

Viral Infection

Viruses are smaller than bacteria and require a host to survive. When a virus invades the human body, it infects certain cells. The virus controls these cells and forces them to help it multiply. When these host cells are finally destroyed, the virus moves on to new, healthy cells. The result is an infection that can cause death. Viral illnesses include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, herpes simplex type 1 and herpes simplex type 2. Because viruses are protected by the host cells, antibiotics rarely work. Vaccinations exist to prevent a specific viral infection, but once the body is diseased, treatment is usually left to the immune system.