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How to Prevent Infections?

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How to Prevent Infections?

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Infections are common, but fortunately, they are preventable. Read this article to know how to prevent them.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At September 6, 2013
Reviewed AtApril 13, 2024

Introduction:

Infectious diseases can be defined as illnesses caused by harmful pathogens (organisms) such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and prions. These organisms get into the body from outside. Infectious diseases can spread from one to another by contaminated food, water, or soil, insect or animal bites, or exposure to organisms in the environment. Infectious diseases include the flu, strep throat, COVID-19, measles, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), and salmonella. In addition to maintaining good overall health, there are some simple steps everyone can take at home, school, or workplace to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

How Does the Spread of Infectious Diseases Occur?

An infection happens when harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi are transmitted from one person to another. This transmission can occur directly through:

  • Person-to-person contact.

  • Exhalations of respiratory droplets during coughing or sneezing

  • Body fluids.

  • Direct contact with the infectious agent in the environment.

  • Transmission during childbirth from mother to baby.

Indirect transmission can occur through different means, which include:

  • Biological means, such as a vector or intermediate host, as seen with diseases like Zika Virus.

  • Mechanical transmission, involving a vector or vehicle, is another indirect method. The transmission of the plague through fleas is an example.

  • Airborne transmission is also a form of indirect spread, as seen in diseases like Tuberculosis.

How to Prevent Infections?

Several simple ways can help reduce the risk of infectious diseases and even prevent many diseases altogether. However, while each step helps reduce the risk of getting and spreading infectious diseases, there is often no single effective way to prevent disease. Therefore, it is essential to practice many habits to reduce the risk.

  • Get Vaccinated: Vaccines help reduce the risk of acquiring infectious diseases by training the immune system to identify and fight infections from harmful organisms. Even though people still get sick after getting vaccinated for it, the symptoms are usually mild than they could have been without the vaccination. Vaccines are available for infectious diseases, including hepatitis A and B, chickenpox, COVID-19, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, human papillomavirus (HPV), influenza, and other infections.

  • Safe Food Handling: The kitchen harbors a lot of germs. Therefore, safe food handling habits are vital to preventing certain infectious diseases. These include:

    • Always wash your hands with soap and water before and after preparing food.

    • Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables.

    • Cook meats to a proper temperature to ensure safe food.

    • Wash utensils and chopping boards thoroughly with soap and water after use.

    • Ensure that all food is cooked to the proper temperature.

    • Avoid drinking untreated water.

    • Avoid drinking unpasteurized milk.

    • Wipe down counters where the raw food was put.

    • After meals, keep leftovers in the refrigerator as soon as possible.

  • Eat Healthy Diet: A strong immune system helps fight off certain infections. People who take a balanced diet rich in nutrients and low in processed foods and red meat have a strong immune system and a reduced risk of infectious diseases.

  • Clean and Disinfect Surfaces: Always keep the rooms, especially kitchens and bathrooms, clean because they are more likely to have bacteria or germs. Wash the counters thoroughly with soap and water, then clean with disinfecting wipes. Always wear gloves when using a disinfectant to clean the surfaces and wash hands afterward.

  • Washing Hands: One can easily pick up germs by touching unclean surfaces or objects commonly touched by others, such as gas pumps, doorknobs, counters, and touch screens. People often get the germs on their hands and then touch their faces. This can be avoided by washing hands with soap and water for about 20 seconds and then drying them with a clean towel.

  • Using a Hand Sanitizer: Sanitizing hands is a good way to fight off infections when soap and water are unavailable. Choose hand sanitizers with at least 60 % alcohol and no methanol, which can be harmful. Doctors recommend purchasing hand sanitizer for various infections. However, hand sanitizers cannot be a substitute for hand washing; it does not eliminate all types of germs and is ineffective for greasy hands. Also, ensure not to use too much sanitizer as it can create a film layer on the hands that may trap germs.

  • Avoid Sharing Personal Items: Sharing personal articles like shaving razors, towels, and nail cutters can also spread germs and illnesses. Avoid contact with people already being infected with an infectious disease. Also, avoid sharing eating utensils and drinking glasses.

  • Maintain Physical Distance: Keeping physical distance by staying at least six feet away from people other than the household. Doing so also helps keep an individual away from air droplets released when someone sneezes, coughs, or talks.

  • Wear a Mask: It is recommended to wear masks when going outdoors to fight contagious illnesses, such as COVID-19. Surgical masks are effective, but they cannot be reused. Cloth masks with multiple layers help block up to 70 % of droplets and are also reusable and washable. Ensure to wash hands immediately after touching the inside of the mask after wearing it.

  • Practice Safe Sex: Practice safer sex by wearing condoms to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

  • Get Rid of Pests: Insects and rodents can carry harmful organisms, so keeping them out of the house is important to the family's health. Ensure that food and garbage cans are properly covered and holes or cracks in the house's walls are sealed.

  • Stay Home When You Are Sick: Avoid going to work, colleges, or schools if having symptoms of infectious diseases, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or fever. Instead, stay at home to stop spreading the infection to others. In addition, keep the distance at least 1 meter away from other family members to prevent them from getting sick.

  • Travel Wisely: If traveling out of the country, speak to a doctor about necessary vaccinations or medications.

  • Ventilate Home: Poorly ventilated rooms can increase the spread of infections. Open windows help get fresh air circulating in the homes. Ensure the system is maintained and the filters are cleaned for air conditioning or coolers.

  • Use Mosquito Repellents: To reduce the risk of mosquito or mosquito bites, use bug repellents. In addition, wear long sleeves and trousers to cover the skin in the woods or areas with long grass.

  • Avoid swimming in water that can be contaminated.

What Are the Medical Interventions Available for Managing and Preventing Infections?

Medical interventions include simple measures to prevent and control infections, along with biochemical treatments to help speed up recovery and sometimes prevent viral infections altogether. These interventions include antibiotics, antivirals, and vaccinations, which can all aid in recovery, slow down disease progression, and even eradicate infectious diseases from entire populations.

1. Antibiotics - Antibiotics are prescribed for bacterial infections and work with the body's natural defense system to eliminate disease-causing bacteria. They can either kill bacteria or prevent them from reproducing. However, misuse of antibiotics, over-prescription, and bacterial mutations have led to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In such cases, stronger doses or combinations of antibiotics may be necessary.

2. Vaccinations - They help improve immunity against specific diseases by introducing small amounts of the virus or bacteria into the body to build up natural defenses. Regular vaccines have helped slow down or even eliminate diseases like polio, measles, and whooping cough. Some vaccines, like those for chickenpox, are given to those at risk of spreading the disease. This helps build natural immunity and contributes to community protection known as herd immunity.

3. Antiviral Medications - These medications are used for diseases caused by viruses like influenza, HIV, and herpes since antibiotics do not work on viruses. These medications slow down disease progression and boost the immune system. Viruses can change and become resistant to antiviral drugs over time.

Conclusion:

Infectious diseases are caused by harmful pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites) entering the body through various modes. While some infectious diseases are minor, some can be life-threatening. Fortunately, several simple things can help reduce the risk of getting and spreading these infections.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

What Are the Three Methods of Controlling the Infection?

The methods to reduce the spread of infectious diseases are as follows :
- Washing the hands regularly with soap and water.
- Use of alcohol-based sanitizer to prevent the spread of infection.
Administration of vaccines against infectious disease.

2.

How Is Infection Prevented in Hospitals?

Infection is prevented in hospitals by maintaining social distance between each patient, ensuring protection by making the mask wear a compulsion for visitors and patients, and introducing and administering the vaccine is the most necessary step to prevent infection.

3.

What Is the Importance Of Infection Prevention?

Infection prevention reduces the spread effect and the risk of infection and increases patient protection. It aims to protect both the patient and healthcare worker. Without disease prevention, it can lead to an unsafe hospital environment.

4.

What Are The Five Signs Seen During Infection?

The five signs of infection are as follows:
- Incubation: includes the exposure time to the onset of symptoms.
- Prodromal: refers to the period of characteristic symptoms of infection and the period after incubation.
- Illness: involves the time at which the person shows the apparent signs of an infectious disease.
- Decline: During this stage, the immune system forms a defense against the pathogen.
- Convalescence: is the step when the symptoms resolve and the person returns to his normal functions.

5.

How Does The Infection Start?

An infection starts when the germ enters the body. It can spread through water, soil, air, and other bodies. The infection caused by bacteria gains entry into the body through contaminated water or food, cuts, close contact with an infected person, droplets of an infected person, or contaminated surfaces such as toys, toilet handles, and taps.

6.

Does Infection End By Its Own?

Bacterial infections usually resolve by themselves through prompt treatment by taking medications. However, if left untreated can become severe and cause complications in the human body.

7.

Can Body Fight Against Infection In Absence Of Antibiotics?

Some infections can be resolved by using natural remedies instead of antibiotics, such as ginger, garlic, clove, and honey. But most cases of infection require the intake of antibiotics to fight against the infection caused by bacteria.

8.

What Works Like Natural Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are the most effective in fighting against infection caused by bacteria. The most effective natural antibiotics are honey, clove, thyme, oregano, and myrrh, which act like natural antibiotics and can treat mild infections caused by bacteria.

9.

What Liquids Are Used For Infection?

The liquids used for infection are alcohol, chlorine, formaldehyde, hydrogen peroxide, iodophors, glutaraldehyde, and peracetic acid phenolic acid. They act to destroy the initiation of infection and exposure to the environment.

10.

Which Food Is Responsible For Helping Bacterial Infection?

The food that fights against the infection is broccoli, clove, basil, garlic, mushroom, citric fruit, and ginger.

11.

When Do Antibiotics Initiate Working?

Antibiotics work just after consuming them. Antibiotics stay in the body after 24 hours of consumption by the patient. They work by fighting against the infection caused by bacteria by either destroying them or making it difficult for the bacteria to grow or multiply.

12.

What is Considered The Strongest Antibiotic For Bacterial Infection?

Bacterial infections are best treated with Erythromycin, Amoxicillin, and Ciprofloxacin. This is because they tend to treat the antibiotics most effectively, and the initiation of antibiotics starts just after taking them and is considered safe for the human body.

13.

How To Verify The Working Of Antibiotics?

Antibiotics work by blocking the processes of bacteria and stopping them from multiplying or killing bacteria. As a result, antibiotics will show improvement in patients' health just after their consumption.

14.

How Long Does The Effect Of Antibiotics Last?

Antibiotic starts working just after a person consumes them. Each antibiotic has a different duration of working. Common antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin and amoxicillin stay in the human body for about 24 hours.
Dr. Suneetha B S
Dr. Suneetha B S

Diabetology

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