Diseases have been around for as long as creatures have roamed the earth. Our immune systems are quite good at responding to infections but I’m sure most people would prefer not having the infection in the first place. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the ways for preventing infectious diseases.
How Infections are Transmitted?
Infections are caused by pathogens or microscopic organisms such as viruses, parasites, fungi, or bacteria. They most often can be transferred from one person to another. They can also be transmitted from insect or animal bites.
Most of these microbes enter the body through natural openings such as the nose, mouth, eyes, etc. or through cuts or other breaks in our skin.
Pathogens enter the body, multiply, and hinder the body’s ability to function normally.
For some people, especially those with pre-existing or underlying medical conditions, even otherwise minor diseases can become a big deal. They can even be life-threatening. For those who are taking medications that lower immune system response, or those who have other immune system disorders, avoiding getting sick is all the more important.
Following basic principles can make a huge impact in preventing infectious diseases.
Vaccinations train your immune system to recognize specific pathogens and know how to deal with them. The body’s immune system is designed in such a way that it can recall any previous infections you have encountered. When your body is exposed to certain microbes that have previously infected you, it boosts its production of antibodies and white blood cells to fight off the infection.
When you get vaccinated, you trick your body into thinking that you have already encountered and been infected with a certain microbe, enhancing the body’s defenses against future infections.
Check with your doctor for available vaccinations to prevent infectious diseases (both for kids and adults in the family).
Take Extra Precautions when Traveling
Bacteria and microbes live everywhere on earth. But they are not the same everywhere. In the places where you spend a lot of time, your body knows how to deal with the microbes found in those local environments.
When you travel, you may be exposed to unfamiliar microbes. That’s why you’re advised against drinking the water in some places. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the water quality, it’s that the microbes found in the water may be unfamiliar to you and so may make you sick as your body learns how to deal with them.
Unless you plan on being in a place for a long while or visiting frequently, it’s best just to avoid any potential problems. Only use a safe water source, such as bottled water, when drinking or brushing your teeth. Be wary of ice cubes, since they are usually made with local water.
If you are traveling to places more common for having insect-borne diseases, bring along and always use insect-repellent. In most tropical countries, mosquitoes can carry infections, such as dengue, malaria, encephalitis, yellow fever, and other infectious diseases.
Before departing on any trip, check with a travel doctor and make sure you get all the shots that are required or recommended for your travel destination.
Personal Hygiene Practices
Skin is one of the most crucial parts of the body as it acts as a barrier between your body and harmful germs. Other points of entry for germs also include your nose, ears, mouth, genitals, or any breaks in the skin.
The first line of defense in keeping germs and bacteria at bay is practicing good hygiene habits. Practicing good hygiene habits coupled with some common sense will reduce the potential entry of germs into your body.
When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth with a tissue and make sure you dispose of it properly. If none is available, cover your mouth with your elbows instead of your hands.
Wash your hands frequently. This is the most basic and important way of preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Most infections, such as gastroenteritis and the common cold are contracted from dirty hands that come in contact with the nose or mouth. Infections may also spread from another person whose hands you may have touched.
Nutrition and Diet
Ensuring that you eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet is one of your best lines of defense for staying healthy. While the foods you eat won’t prevent your exposure to diseases, they will provide your body with the nutrients needed to effectively fight off any that you might be exposed to.
A healthy diet should focus on “whole” foods. That is, those that have little or no processing such as fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, fish, beans, etc. Try to avoid chemical additives and manufactured foods. Also avoid excessive amounts of cholesterol, fat, added sugars, and sodium.
Always stay vigilant and take care of your health. Boosting your immune system by staying active, eating healthy, and living a clean lifestyle will help in preventing infectious diseases. Children are more susceptible to infections, so make sure that they are also taken care of.
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