An infection is defined as an illness caused by one or more foreign or latent organisms, such as a virus, a fungus, or a bacteria. Parasites can also cause infections too.
Infections can affect just about any part of the body, and cause a range of symptoms. If or how it is treated will depend on the nature of the infection.
Infections can take on a range of forms, and affect just about any part of the body.
Oral thrush is a fungal infection which occurs in the mouth and throat. It is caused by a type of yeast germ, called Candida. This is typically present in several parts of the body in small numbers. However, under certain conditions, the balance of different fungi can become upset, and the presence of Candida can grow. This is when an infection occurs, causing symptoms such as discomfort and irritation, as well as white lesions along the oral mucosa (the lining inside the mouth).
Nystan, a type of antifungal treatment, is often used to clear up infections of this kind.
Cold sores and shingles are also caused by a virus. Herpes zoster is the viral strain responsible for shingles; whereas herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1) and, to a lesser extent, herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) are responsible for cold sores. (HSV-2 is typically more often associated with genital herpes.)
Shingles is a reactivation of the same virus which causes chickenpox. When someone has chickenpox during childhood, the virus remains in the system but goes into a state of dormancy. In certain conditions however, such as when someone has a weakened immune system, the virus can trigger again and lead to shingles. Antiviral medicines are used to help stop the virus from multiplying, and send it back into a dormant state.
Cold sores are characterised by the appearance of blisters or lesions on the lips and mouth. Again, when someone contracts HSV-1 or HSV-2 for the first time, the virus will go into remission after the initial infection period and lie dormant. However, the virus remains in the body, and may reactivate at a later time and lead to a recurrence of symptoms. Antiviral medications such as Zovirax cannot rid the body of the virus completely, but can help to limit it and prevent the escalation of symptoms.
Parasites can also cause infections in various parts of the body. Threadworms can affect the anus; and trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite called trichomonas vaginalis, which infects the genital tract.
Other types of infections may be bacterial in nature. For example, STIs such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis are caused by different types of bacteria. Bacteria can also be responsible for urinary tract infections, eye infections (bacterial conjunctivitis), ear and nasal infections, and bacterial vaginosis.