Diseases caused by pathogens. From a common cold to serious illnesses

Diseases caused by pathogens. From a common cold to serious illnesses
Diseases caused by pathogens. From a common cold to serious illnesses

Pathogens are organisms or agents that cause disease. They can take the form of viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. Even though the human body is naturally populated with microbes, they only become problematic when our immune system is weakened or when they manage to penetrate normally sterile areas of our body.

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Types of pathogens

There are four main types of pathogens: viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites.

1. Viruses

Viruses consist of a genetic code, such as DNA or RNA, protected by a protein coat. Once we are infected, the viruses invade the host cells in our body, using them to replicate and thus produce more viruses. These new viruses are later released from the host cell, generally damaging or destroying the infected cells. For example, flu and the common cold are caused by viruses.

Antibiotics do not kill viruses and are therefore ineffective in treating viral infections. However, there are antiviral drugs that can be used depending on the type of virus.

2. Bacteria

Bacteria are microscopic single-celled organisms. They are very diverse, having a variety of shapes and characteristics, and have the ability to live in almost any environment, including in and on our bodies. Not all bacteria cause infections, only those called pathogenic bacteria. Our body can be more prone to bacterial infections when our immune system is affected by a virus. For example, a common cold caused by a virus can weaken our immune system, making us more vulnerable to bacterial infections like strep throat.

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. However, some strains of bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, making them difficult to treat.

3. Fungi

There are millions of species of fungi on Earth, of which only a few hundred can cause disease. Fungi are found everywhere in the environment, including indoors, outdoors, and on human skin. They cause infections when they grow excessively. Their structure, with a nucleus and other components protected by a membrane and a thick cell wall, makes them more resistant.

Some new fungal infections, such as Candida aurus, are now considered more dangerous, which is why research in the field of fungal infections is constantly developing.

4. Parasites

Parasites are organisms that behave like small animals, living in or on a host and feeding on it. Although parasitic infections are more common in tropical and subtropical regions, they can occur anywhere. Three main types of parasites that can cause disease in humans are protozoa (single-celled organisms that can live and multiply inside the human body), helminths (multicellular organisms that can live inside or outside the body and are known as worms), and ectoparasites (multicellular organisms that live on or feed off our skin, such as mosquitoes or ticks).

These parasites can be transmitted in a number of ways, including through contaminated soil, water, food and blood, as well as through sexual contact and insect bites.

Diseases caused by pathogens

Pathogens can cause a number of diseases, which vary in severity and mode of transmission.

1. Viruses:

– The common cold

– Flu

– Meningitis

– Chickenpox

– Oral and genital herpes

– Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E

– Yellow fever

– HIV and AIDS

2. Bacteria:

– Streptococcal tonsillitis

– Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

– Bacterial gastroenteritis, such as salmonella food poisoning or E. coli infection

– Bacterial meningitis

– Lyme disease

– Tuberculosis

– Gonorrhea

– Cellulite

3. Fungi:

– Vaginal yeast infections

– Candidiasis (Candida infections)

– Tinea (fungal infections of the skin such as athlete’s foot or onychomycosis)

– Candida aurus (fungal infections resistant to treatment)

4. Parasites:

– Giardiasis

– Trichomoniasis

– Malaria

– Toxoplasmosis

– Infestations with intestinal worms

– Pubic lice

Protection against pathogens

There are several ways we can protect ourselves against pathogens and prevent illness:

Frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds can significantly reduce the risk of transmitting pathogens.

Vaccines can provide protection against dangerous viral and bacterial diseases.

Proper cooking and storage of food can prevent bacterial and fungal contamination.

Staying home when we are sick, especially if we have a fever, diarrhea or vomiting, can prevent the spread of disease.

Do not share personal items such as razor blades or toothbrushes.

The use of repellents and appropriate clothing can protect against insect bites that can transmit disease.

Knowing about health risks and getting the necessary vaccinations before traveling to areas with specific diseases can provide protection.

See also: One serving of yogurt contains half of the daily calcium requirement. How it can strengthen our immune system

Pathogens can pose threats to our health, but our body has its own defense mechanisms to fight them. Understanding the types of pathogens and how they cause disease allows us to take preventative measures and protect our health. Following healthy habits and adopting a responsible lifestyle can help reduce the risk of disease and maintain a strong and resilient body.

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The article is in Romanian

Tags: Diseases caused pathogens common cold illnesses


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