Caused by microscopic organisms, infections are very common indeed. They range in severity depending on which type of bacteria, virus or fungi we’ve taken into our body.

There are literally billions of bacteria around us in the air, our food and in our immediate surroundings. This means we inevitably come into contact with them daily. Most are benign or even helpful for our bodies – they’re involved in countless useful and essential processes within us. However, there are some microscopic organisms that can cause illness.

Ways of contracting an infection can be from food, animals, a hospital visit, through to sexual activity or just by breathing in a type of harmful bacteria that our body simply isn’t used to – like when we travel to a different part of the world.

Types of Infections

Varying hugely depending on where, when and how we come into contact with harmful micro-organisms, the term ‘infection’ is very broad indeed.

If we become ill with say, a cold, then this is an example of a common infection that we may have received via a number of sources – from touching someone with a cold, or picking up germs from a surface where they may have coughed or sneezed on. There are more serious airborne and bodily fluid infections, but colds and flu are the most common.

Serious infections can be contracted from a number of sources:

  • Food - E.coli, Salmonella, etc.
  • Sexual activity – HIV, Gonorrhoea, etc.
  • Inherited from motherly contact- Herpes or Hepatitis B, etc.
  • Animals - Rabies, Salmonella, etc.
  • Hospitals – MRSA, etc.

In short, the type of infection we’re more prone to is dictated by how and where we pick it up.

Infections symptoms and treatment

Depending on what type of infection is contracted means that symptoms will vary considerably. A runny nose, a cough and a snivel are symptoms of a mild cold; flu could range from similar effects to diarrhoea and weight loss.

An infection like E.coli, for example, needs prompt attention, even though the symptoms can be the same as flu but get progressively worse. If symptoms are prolonged and rapidly deteriorating, then swift medical advice should be sought.

As there are many variables with infection, and only a clinical test can reveal exactly where an infection came from and how to treat it. If you feel very ill and suspect you have an infection, seek help from a doctor.

Avoiding Infection

Even though there are plenty of variations how different bodies deal with invading bacteria; like age, diet, genetics and age as some of the deciding factors, most infections can be avoided using simple steps.

Regularly washing your hands – especially before and after eating or using the bathroom is the first step. Other steps include eating a balanced and healthy diet to keep the immune system functioning properly, avoiding others who have an infection, storing food correctly, practising safe sex, and keeping immunisation jabs up to date (especially if travelling or living in a country with easily transmittable infections).

Even though bacteria and infection will cross our paths at some point, by taking simple hygiene and sense measures, we have the best chance of staying healthy.

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