Infection

Results from invading organisms such as bacteria and viruses.

Symptoms

The symptoms of infection depend on its location and the type of organism which has created it. Common symptoms include:

Fever and chills
Sweating
Headache
Muscle ache
Fatigue
Redness, swelling, heat or streaks around a wound

Causes

Infections are caused by bacteria and viruses trying to invade our bodies. Once they have taken up residence in the body, they try to reproduce and survive. Most of these organisms are detected and quickly dealt with by our immune systems before they have time to take hold.

Those that survive do so by preying on healthy cells and tissue. The process of invasion, growth, and our body’s reaction to the organism is what is meant by the term infection.

Our body’s quick (immune) response usually stops all infections. However, sometimes this does not occur as the body’s immune system is weak and not functioning as it should.

Recurrent or chronic infections, even very mild colds, are signs the immune system is weakened. This can be caused by chronic ill-health, poor dietary habits, stress, smoking and exposure to allergens.

The means by which infections are transferred from one person to another (or from one part of the body to another), are largely related to hygiene and include exposure to droplets from sneezing or coughing, sharing eating utensils and towels, and not washing the hands after going to the toilet.

Natural Therapies

Andrographis & Garlic are herbs which can help heal minor infections
Boosting your immunity with Echinacea during winter or when you are run-down is also a good idea; an antioxidant supplement containing vitamins A, C, E, zinc and selenium will also be beneficial for your immune system
The topical use of products containing Tea tree oil can help heal skin infections such as acne

Lifestyle Factors

Rest is an important part of curing an infection. Listen to your body and don’t try to do more than you are capable of. Try to relax and rest as much as possible.

Eat a light diet of fresh fruits and vegetables when you have an infection – especially the foods rich in vitamin C (citrus fruits), vitamin E (wheatgerm, seeds and seed oils), vitamin A (red, yellow or orange coloured fruits and vegetables, or dark-green leafy vegetables).

Maintaining your body fluids by drinking lots of filtered water and diluted fresh fruit juices will help to prevent dehydration. Alcohol, caffeine and other diuretic substances should be avoided.

Smoking whilst you have an infection will make it harder for your body to heal itself. If you must smoke, remember to take extra vitamin C.

Remedies

Practice good personal hygiene and avoid kissing or sharing utensils with others who are sick. Remember to extend your hygiene practices to your food – particularly meat products, and don’t eat food prepared under unhygienic conditions.

If you are prone to recurrent infection, supplement your diet with vitamin C, an antioxidant supplement, or the herb Echinacea.

Don’t push yourself too hard. Taking rest when you need it will reduce the likelihood of becoming run down and vulnerable to infection. Remember that feelings and symptoms of stress are your body’s way of telling you that it’s not coping.

Important Notes

Recurrent infections are common in those with depleted immunity (for example those with HIV or chronic fatigue syndrome), and in those taking immuno-suppressive drugs. Consult with your healthcare professional for more information.

You should also consult your healthcare professional if you or your child develops a high fever, or if your infection fails to respond to treatment.

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