How does one stay healthy and avoid contracting a disease? That’s the million-dollar question everyone is seeking an answer to. What exactly is a disease and how can we avoid it in advance?
There are diseases that manifest in the body itself, others are communicable. Most of them tend to have different effects on different people. Are there ways and means to live our life and ward of diseases? Is our body capable enough to handle ailments and diseases?
Are only physical illnesses categorized as diseases? What about the mental and psychological ones? In these uncertain times, for the sake of ourselves, it’s important to be mindful and aware of answers to these questions. Are you looking to stay healthy? If yes, please read on.
What Is The Meaning Of Contracting A Disease
According to Mayoclinic Acquiring any disease from external sources is known as contracting a disease. As a result, the body succumbs to the attack by illness because of the weak immune system.
The body’s immune system is the first-line defense mechanism. Above all, it fights and repels any bacterial or viral attack on the body.
A healthy immune system in the body wards off the disease. However, some mild symptoms may occur in the body. But a weak body may not be able to withstand the onslaught of bacteria/virus/parasite/fungi and as a result, it may succumb to it.
In other words, being sick because of some external reasons is known as contracting a disease.
The following weakens the immune system:
- Use of steroid
- Cancer or such type of disease that attacks the immune system
- Bad lifestyle
- Unhealthy food
How Can We Contract A Disease According To HealthLine
First of all, there are several contagious diseases. These diseases can spread from one person to another which makes contracting a disease easy for us. Some illnesses can be transmitted to humans through animals as well.
The illness gets transmitted when the virus/bacteria/parasite/fungus travels from another person to us and then it gets inside our body.
Furthermore, the transmission could be because of direct contact with other humans or through indirect contact.
1. PERSON TO PERSON CONTACT
In this case, a healthy person encounters an infected person. Because of the contact, the body fluid gets exchanged.
As a result, the virus or pathogen gets into the body of a healthy person.
This virus or bacteria then show symptoms in a healthy body. If the immune system fights the disease, that’s fine. Otherwise, we may fall sick.
Now we have the virus or bacteria in our body. Therefore, whether we fall ill or not, we will become the carrier for the disease and can transmit it to some other healthy person.
The STDs are an example of such transmission of illness. The partners can transmit it to one another. However, in many cases, the pregnant mother transmits it to the newborn child.
2. DROPLET SPREAD
The fluid droplets also spread many illnesses. Whenever a person sneezes or coughs, he throws out liquid droplets.
If someone is in close vicinity of the person, within a few feet, he may inhale these droplets. As a result, virus ingestion will occur and he may fall sick.
Some people tend to throw out spit while talking. As a result, this will spread the infections and affect healthy individuals around.
The recent outbreak of COVID -19 called Corona Virus is because of droplet transmission from one person to another.
3. INSECT BITE
Many illnesses get transmitted to a healthy person because of insect bites. These insects carry the virus/bacteria of disease in them.
The insects are not affected by the virus/bacteria. They become the carrier.
A healthy person is infected with a virus when the insects bite him. He may start showing symptoms of the illness after the incubation period of the pathogen (disease cause virus, bacteria, or any other micro-organism).
Thus, the disease gets transmitted by insects like mosquito, fleas, ticks (known as vectors). These are mostly blood-sucking insects. Vector-borne conditions are malaria, Lyme etc.
Animals transmit some diseases to one another. In some instances, this illness can be transmitted to humans by the animals.
This process is called Zooasis. The illness that spreads from animals to humans is known as Zoonotic illness.
Please note the difference between vector-borne disease and Zoonotic disease.
In the case of vector-borne disease, the vectors do not become sick. In Zoonotic disease, it is the ill animal that spreads the disease to humans. Vectors are just the carriers.
Some examples of Zootonic disease are Plague (rodents are affected by this and transmit to humans), Anthrax (sheep has this disease and transmits it to the humans).
People engaged in animal husbandry are susceptible to suffer from these kinds of diseases.
5. ANIMAL TO PERSON TRANSMISSION
Just like the vector-borne disease, there are certain illnesses that an animal can transmit to humans. It is different from Zootonic disease.
In Zootonic disease, the involved animal is also affected. In animal to the person transmission case, the concerned animal may not get sick.
It can just behave like a carrier. Similarly, it is like vector-borne disease, where the insects are only the carriers. The animal to person disease does not spread from animal to animal.
These are the subtle difference between Zootonic and animal to person transmission. In many instances, they are treated the same.
6. AIRBORNE TRANSMISSION
Contracting a disease can also be through the air. There is no direct contact. The pathogen is airborne.
Whenever any healthy person inhales the infected air, the symptoms of the sickness develop in him and he succumbs to the illness.
The airborne pathogens can travel a long distance. These pathogens remain in the air for a long time. That is why it can spread the disease far and wide.
The air transmits pathogens that cause tuberculosis, measles, pneumonia.
7. FOOD AND WATER
Contaminated food and water are a great source of transmitting infectious disease.
Stale, rotten food, or poorly cooked food attract lots of pathogens. Similarly, drinking water may be laden with pathogens.
Stale water, water from the dirty source (like a muddy, well or polluted river) is polluted. As a result, the stagnant water has a very high probability of carrying and breeding pathogens.
Quite often, food and water may be good. But the storage containers may be soiled and dirty. It also contaminates food and water.
Contaminated food and water generally affect the digestive system. Diarrhea, gastroenteritis, Dysentery are some prevalent diseases of this variety.
8. THROUGH CONTAMINATED OBJECTS
Contaminated objects can also be a cause of transmitting infection. Very commonly contaminated objects are doorknobs, railing, handlebars in tubes and metro trains and the likes.
An infected person leaves the infection (pathogens) on these objects. Whenever a healthy person encounters these objects, the pathogens get on to the person.
If this person touches his mouth ear, nose without washing and disinfecting his hand, the pathogen gains entry into the healthy body. It then attacks the immune system of the body and makes the person sick.
How To Know If We Have Contracted A Disease?
It generally takes some time after the pathogen has entered the body, and the symptoms start showing. This is called the incubation period.
There are five stages in the case of infectious disease. The illness progress through these stages one after another.
The five stages are:
1. INCUBATION PERIOD
The pathogen has entered the body. It goes and settles itself or lodges in the organ it infects. Like some pathogens may go and settle in the liver. Others may go and lodge in the lungs. Some others will anchor in the digestive tract.
The body does not exhibit any symptoms, even though the pathogen is in the body. The host body does not realize any existence of the pathogen.
The pathogen starts multiplying itself in this stage. No sooner than it reaches some set number, the next stage is kicked in.
2. PRODROMAL PERIOD
It is the stage where the pathogen has lodged itself firmly in the host body. It has multiplied in enough numbers for the body to acknowledge its presence. Mild symptoms start appearing in the body.
The body is not sick now. However, discomfort and deviation from the normal functioning of the body begin.
A sensitive person can sense this stage, and this is the first tangible signal sent out by the body. Do not ignore this signal.
We should get alert and observe the body. The defense system of the body starts defending, and a kind of duel ensues between the pathogen and the immune system.
That is the reason for the symptoms to develop.
If in case, the immunity of the body is strong enough to destroy the pathogen and throw it out of the body, the progress of illness is aborted. The body recovers and comes back to its healthy state.
If the immune system loses to the pathogen attack, the body now is entirely in control of the pathogen. As a consequence, the illness progresses to the next stage.
3. PERIOD OF ILLNESS
In this third stage of illness, the body is entirely under the influence of the pathogen. As a result, symptoms are at their peak. Every typical sign of the disease gets exhibited. The body gets weak and is under stress. The body is not able to function normally.
It starts affecting other parts of the body as well. Clinical testing and laboratory testing of critical parameters confirm the existence of the disease.
The immune system needs external support, rest, medication, therapies, surgery, to get rid of the illness.
If the medical care and therapies complement the immune system well, the symptoms will go on a decline. As a result, the body can fight and weaken the pathogen. The next stage of illness will begin.
If for some reason the medication and treatment do not go well, the pathogen finally wins over. As a result, the damage to the infected body part is beyond resurrection. In the worst case, the patient may succumb to the disease.
4. PERIOD OF DECLINE
The dawn of this stage is enough proof that the body is on the way to recovery. The pathogens are losing out to the body defense and immune system efforts.
The symptoms start getting milder. A few of them may disappear altogether.
However, do not let the guard down. The medical treatment should continue, as suggested by the doctor.
Carelessness, at this stage, may relapse the illness. It can be very dangerous. The relapse of any disease is very difficult to manage. The pathogens get used to the medicines, and it is no longer able to control the disease.
5. CONVALESCENCE PERIOD
It is the final stage where the patient becomes normal. Illness weakens the body parts. The general health and disposition go for a toss. It is the recovery period. The medications now aim at getting the proper health back.
Even this final stage needs careful monitoring and administration. The chance of relapse exists here too.
How To Prevent Yourself From Contracting A Disease According To MayoClinic
Prevention is always better than cure.
The best strategy for prevention is to ensure that the pathogens do not get inside the body. We have seen that pathogens enter our body by:
- Food and water
Our prevention strategies should be:
- Avoid all forms of physical contact with any person suffering from any contagious disease, even if he/she is a family.
- In case the airborne disease is on the spread, wear a mask whenever you are in unprotected areas. The mask should be medical grade, single-use types. Dispose of the mask, as suggested by the manufacturer. These masks act as a filter and prevent the pathogen from getting in.
- To safeguard from vector-borne disease, disinfect your home and workplace with insecticides to destroy them.
Additionally, you should use mosquito nets and repellant creams to keep the vectors at bay. Destroy the breeding grounds of insects, like stagnant water, shrubs, wild bushes, etc.
Always eat fresh, hygienic food. Home-cooked food is best. Drink only clean and pure water.
How To Increase Immunity?
Increasing immunity is a matter of personal choice. Changes in lifestyle and adopting healthy practice will surely boost the immune system.
Though everybody is different and responds in its way to changes, generally, the following tips work well with almost everyone. Following these tips will ensure good immunity in the long run.
- Eat Well – Always eat a well-balanced diet. It should have carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins and minerals in the right proportion. Refer to any good food pyramid to make up your diet schedule.
- Sleep Well – Unrested body wrecks the immune system. We should sleep 7 -8 hours daily. It allows the body to recover and gain immunity.
- Exercise – Physical exercise of any form and type, for 45 minutes – 60 minutes every day will do wonders for your immunity.
- Avoid Smoking – Tobacco kills your immunity. Therefore, making you an easy target for diseases.
- Drink Moderately – No more than 14 units per week in any case (best if avoided.)
- Drink Plenty Of Water – Keep yourself hydrated. It helps the nutrition to reach all over the body and strengthen you and throw the toxins out.
- Stay Calm – Undue stress and worries will have an ill effect on your immune system. Be happy and optimistic.