Why some diseases are infectious while others are not?

A disease is any condition or illness that deters the body from functioning the way it usually should. Not all diseases are similar, though. That is why various types of medical specialists handle every kind of disease. But, one of the general classifications of illnesses is whether they are infectious or non-infectious.

Infectious diseases are conditions or illnesses that are contagious. That means that it can spread from one individual to another. They are brought by pathogens or microorganisms that we collectively call as germs. While bacterial and viral infections tend to affect more people, protozoa and fungi can also be a culprit.

Infectious diseases are caused by:

  • These one-cell organisms are responsible for various illnesses such as tuberculosis, urinary tract infections, certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and strep throat.
  • Though they are smaller than bacteria, viruses are the culprit of many minor to severe diseases, such as the common cold, Ebola, Dengue fever, HPV, and HIV.
  • While fungi are often responsible for skin diseases, such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and jock itch.
  • Protozoa cause diseases, such as the African Sleeping Sickness, and malaria.

Signs and symptoms of the infection may differ depending on which pathogen caused the infection. More often, fever and fatigue signal that a person has been infected. Milder infections usually go away on their own and may respond to home remedies and ample rest. However, some severe or life-threatening ones need medication and hospitalization.

Infectious diseases are immensely common worldwide and spread from person to person in various ways. For instance, strep throat, colds, flu can be transmitted by kissing or touching a person who has the infection.

Infectious agents could also travel via air when someone coughs or sneezes. As the droplets stay in the air for a short period, anyone who inhales into their lungs can get infected. However, there are those illnesses in which small particles can remain airborne for extended periods, such as the rubella virus and tuberculosis.

Other infectious diseases can also be passed onto humans from an insect or animal, but don’t necessarily mean it can be transmitted to another individual. Examples of these are diseases caused by mosquitoes and ticks. Your friends won’t be able to transmit it to you but an infected insect does.

Some infectious diseases can also be passed on by using or touching an infected person used. For instance, you can get mononucleosis from sharing spoons, forks, cups, and even lipstick or lip balms. You can also contract athlete’s foot after stepping into the gym shower should the person before has the condition. Other diseases can be spread through sexual contact, be it oral, vaginal, or anal. Such diseases include gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and HIV.

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to prevent being infected. One of which is vaccinations, which means getting a shot that would make you immune to the pathogen. Measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, and HPV are some infectious diseases that have vaccines.

You can also keep yourself from getting an infection through proper hygiene and avoiding contact from sick people. Also, make sure to condoms regardless of the type of sex. Remember that prevention is the best way to prevent these infections.

Now, why are some diseases non-infectious? Well, they are not caused by these pathogens, making them untransmittable. Instead, these conditions result from a combination of physiological, genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors. Such examples of these diseases include cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, cataracts, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

If pathogens cause infectious diseases, non-infectious diseases tend to arise from the individual’s background. For instance, environment and lifestyle renowned for boosting the likelihood of getting such non-communicable conditions. If a person smokes or has constant exposure to air pollution, it increases the risk of lung cancer. Meanwhile, having an unhealthy diet or sedentary lifestyle may result in obesity, hypertension, and heart attack.

More Readings:

Infectious disease (Wikipedia)

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