to look for
Fever, chills, sweating, headaches, muscle aches, and fatigue are symptoms common to many
infections, however there are symptoms specific to different types of infections.
Viruses and bacteria are
constantly battling with our bodies and trying to invade. Once on or inside the body, they
try to survive and reproduce. Most do not succeed as our body has a good defence system.
Those that survive do so by
preying on healthy cells and tissue. The process of invasion, growth, and our body's
reaction to them is what is meant by infection.
For a more full description
of the function of our immune system please go to the entry immune problems.
Our bodys quick
response usually stops all infections. However, sometimes this does not occur as the
bodys immune system is weak and not functioning as it should.
Bacteria, viruses, fungi are
what cause infections by invading body tissue, stealing nutrients from healthy cells, and
releasing toxins some parasites kill healthy cells.
These micro-organisms readily
infect the eyes, ears, mouth, genitals, and the skin itself. Some enter straight into the
Food poisoning occurs when
pathogen (invading bacteria) enter the gastrointestinal tract, usually through
contaminated food or water.
Most respiratory infections,
including common colds, flu and mild forms of pneumonia, are caused by inhaling or ingesting viruses.
The urinary tract usually
flushes out pathogens but is prone to infection when it is swollen, irritated, or
obstructed. Ailments ranging from common bladder infections to serious kidney infections
are usually bacterial.
Most infections stay
localised but some can spread throughout the entire body.
Your doctor will do tests to
determine where your infection is and its severity.
Minor infections are of short
duration and usually clear up on their own, but serious infectious diseases require
Antibiotics are the usual
treatment against bacterial infections however this course of action will not work against
viral infections. In these cases the doctor can usually only relieve the symptoms and help
the body to heal itself.
prescription medications can relieve typical symptoms and speed recovery from minor
Good nutrition, rest, and
stress-reducing activities can help prevent and combat infection.
Herbal Treatments - Some
herbs which are particularly helpful for infections are - aniseed, Echinacea, eucalyptus,
garlic, goldenseal, horseradish, myrrh, pau darco, tea tree oil. (Go to our Herbal Page)
Try a warm compress on the affected area with geranium in it, for coughs and colds,
try inhaling grapefruit oil, lemongrass, lime or lemon oil. For more information on the
essential oils - see our aromatherapy
- Pulsatilla is great for ridding the
body of mucus or discharge - ask for the required dosages.
The most incredible diet in
the world will not always protect you from every germ or bug going around, but it will
definitely help your body cope with some of them.
Try to eat more fresh fruits
and vegetables - especially the foods rich in vitamin
C (citrus fruits), vitamin E (wheatgerm, seeds
and seed oils), vitamin A (red, yellow or orange
coloured fruits and vegetables, or dark-green leafy vegetables). Selenium will be present
in wheat, brown rice, poultry and low-fat dairy produce. You could eat more beans, fish,
liver, brewers yeast and nuts, oysters, cheddar cheese, and lentils which are rich
sources of zinc and cysteine.
Avoid refined foods, alcohol
Proper vaccinations need to be performed to prevent infections.
Be careful with meats and
always keep them refrigerated - also wash hands before and after touching them.
Practice good personal
When to seek further