A Worldful of Germs
Germs are everywhere. You practically live in a world full of germs. No matter how often you wash your hands and how many times you take a bath, you cannot totally get rid of them. But not all germs are harmful. In fact, some germs can keep you healthy. That is why it is very important that you should know which ones are beneficial and which ones can pose danger to your health.
In every illness such as colds, fever, and sore throat, you can almost be sure that germs are the ones responsible for it. Germs are a multitude of microscopic invaders that include bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other infectious organisms that can be found in the air that you breathe, in water that we drink or on unclean surfaces and not some infected animals. It can also be found in the soil, on plants, on your food, and even inside your own body. They are practically just on every surface that you could think of. They range in size from the microscopic virus to single-celled bacteria to parasitic worms that can grow to more than several feet in length.
Although your immune system can protect you from legions of infectious microbes, there are some bacteria and viruses that prove to be menacing and formidable opponents due to their ability to mutate constantly. which consequently breaks down the immune system.
Single-celled microorganisms like bacteria have the ability to reproduce through cell-division. These are minute living organisms that looks like balls, rods, or spirals when seen through the microscope. They can grow on any non-living surface which may not necessarily pose any danger to your health. Some bacteria are even beneficial to one’s health such as Lactobacillus Acidophilus. This particular bacterium helps in the digestion of food in your stomach and fights some disease-causing organisms. It can also give some nutrients to the body. In fact, some bacteria are being used to make health foods like yogurt and cheese.
But there are certain strain of bacteria that when they get inside your body, you will become ill. This is called bacterial infection. These infectious bacteria, like Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E.coli, can mutate rapidly and produce chemicals called toxins that can destroy the cells and tissues in your body. Severe gastrointestinal problems from contaminated food is caused by E.coli while gonorrhea is brought about by gonococcus bacterium. Some bacterial infections are considered contagious such as strep throat and tuberculosis. However, infections of the heart valves (endocarditis) or bone (osteomyelitis) are not considered transmissible.
Virus, on the other hand, is not a living organism but a capsule that contains genetic materials such as DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) or RNA (ribonucleic acid). It is not considered a living thing due to its inability to respond to environmental changes which is a characteristic of every living thing. Compared to bacteria, viruses are much smaller. They are not self-sufficient and must have a convenient host in order to mutate. The moment these viruses get to invade your body, they cling to your cells and attack these cells which eventually get damaged during the process. Examples of viral illnesses are Polio, the dreaded AIDS, and the common cold.
Fungi are singe-celled organisms that are somewhat bigger than bacteria. They are found in the air, water, soil and on plants and can live in your body and may not cause any harm. There are fungi that can be helpful in fighting infectious bacteria. Penicillin is an antibiotic against bacterial infections derived from fungi. Some types of fungi can be used in bread-making, cheese and yogurt. Molds, yeast and mushrooms are types of fungi. Some mushrooms may be multi-celled organisms and can be seen by the naked eye. Although mushrooms are not infectious, some yeasts and molds do. Candida is a yeast that can cause thrush, an infection of the mouth and throat among infants and those who are under antibiotics medication or who are suffering from damaged immune system. Candida is also responsible for diaper rash.
Protozoa are microscopic, single-celled organisms that are very much similar to animals in behavior. They are parasites living within your body particularly in the intestines, hunting other microbes for food. Some can be harmless whilers may be harmful to your health. they contaminate the food that you eat and water you drink. Aside from eating and drinking, protozoa can enter your body through sexual contact or through mosquitoes, transmitting the deadly parasite plasmodium which causes malaria.
Literally meaning worms, helminths are considered to be among the larger parasites to enter the body through its eggs or larvae stage and dwells in your intestinal tracts, lungs, liver, skin or brain. Most common example of these are the tapeworms which can grow to as long as 12 inches and roundworms that can grow to be 25 feet or even longer. Tapeworms have segmented bodies which can break off to develop into new tapeworms.
Although the common colds can always be treated by over-the-counter drugs, always seek medical advice when you suspect that you have infections and you have been experiencing the following:
• Difficulty breathing
• A cough lasting longer than a week
• A fever of 100.4 F (38.0 C) or more
• Periods of rapid heartbeat
• A rash, especially if it’s accompanied by a fever
• Blurred vision or other difficulty seeing
• Persistent vomiting
• An unusual or severe headache
• Animal or human bite
Let your doctor diagnose you to be sure if you’re infected and to know the severity of the infection as well the proper treatment for each condition.