ENJOY A HEALTHY FESTIVE SEASON: PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE AGAINST VIRAL INFECTIONS
The festive season is here, and you must be excited to treat yourself to all the tasty foods, dress elegantly and go shopping. With all these activities taking center stage, your health could go for a toss if you are not taking the necessary precautions. Various bacterial, fungal, and viral infections are on the loose, and if your body’s immunity is low, you can easily catch any infections.
Let’s learn about viral infections, symptoms, types of viral infections, viral infection treatment options, and precautions you can take during the festive season to stay healthy and disease-free.
Viral infections are caused by viruses, the microorganisms that enter the cells of your body and attack your immunity. Viruses can spread from person to person through the air, food, water, sexual transmission, insect bites (mosquitoes and ticks), touching contaminated surfaces, etc. Viral infections are quite common and contagious (easily spread from one person to another). Common cold (flu) is a common viral infection that everyone catches in their lifetime.
Viral infections are considered more dangerous due to the ability of the viruses to mutate quickly, and the severity of these infections is inversely related to your body’s immunity.
The festive season often leads to frequent munching on sweets and processed foods. This leads to increased blood sugar levels, further worsening viral infections and even providing a substrate for fungal infections to propagate. In the current pandemic of COVID-19, the prevalence of fungal diseases, especially mucormycosis (caused by the black fungus), was significantly higher in people with diabetes who had uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Similarly, Aspergillus infections (white fungus) were also seen in many diabetic people with COVID-19.
Viral infections symptoms
Symptoms of viral infections could include:
- Flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, aches, and headache).
- Gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea.
- Nasal congestion/runny nose.
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Significant weight loss.
Fever is usually the first manifestation of viral infections. Viral fever symptoms include most of the above symptoms, and these are common in bacterial infections also. Still, the viral infections mainly attack the immune system and, if untreated, can lead to further super-infections such as mucormycosis, etc.
Severe symptoms can include high-grade fever (can go up to 103-104°F), chest pain, jaundice, dyspnea, wheezing, seizures, etc. These symptoms can be specific to viral infections and require immediate medical care.
Types of viral infection
Types of viral infection can be classified based on the method of transmission as follows:
- Vector-borne viral infections
Vector-borne viral infections are caused by a vector such as mosquitos, ticks, and mice in the host (human body). Dengue is an example of a vector-borne condition spread by mosquitoes characterized by high fever, rash, muscle pain, and reduced platelet count. Other vector-borne infections include Zika, Chikungunya, and yellow fever.
- Food-borne viral infections
Food-borne viral infections occur when the virus is transmitted through the oral or fecal route. Viruses are transmitted either due to contaminated food or by sharing food with the carrier. Alternatively, the virus can be transmitted through fecal matter if proper hand hygiene is not maintained while using restrooms. Food-borne infections include Hepatitis A (that affects the liver and might lead to jaundice) and Rotavirus (characterized by watery diarrhea leading to dehydration, which can be fatal).
- Airborne viral infections
Airborne viral infections are transmitted by coming in contact with the carrier and inhaling the virus’s droplets. These infections usually affect the respiratory system (nose, throat, airway, and lungs) and produce primary symptoms of cough, runny nose, or nasal congestion. Seasonal flu is the commonest of all airborne viral infections. COVID-19 is also spread via coming in contact with the infected person or a silent carrier. Other respiratory viral infections include respiratory syncytial virus infection (characterized by upper respiratory tract symptoms and pneumonia) and rhinovirus infection (indicated by common cold and fatigue).
- Skin-skin transmitted infections
Skin-to-skin contact can also lead to the transmission of viruses. These can spread through sharing clothes, towels, swimming pools, kissing, sharing drinks, etc. The most common symptoms include bumps or rashes. Most common skin viral infections include chickenpox, herpes, Molluscum contagiosum infections, etc.
- Sexually transmitted viral infections
Sexually transmitted viral infections are spread through body fluids or blood. These viral infections are more severe and have complex manifestations. Sexually transmitted viral infections include Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), genital herpes, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B, etc.
How to treat viral infections
Most viral infections are self-limiting and resolve on their own, and viral infection treatment is not required. A doctor can treat symptoms of viral infections with paracetamol, anti-cough/cold medications, vitamin C, etc. However, in severe infections, antiviral medications can also be prescribed depending upon health conditions and the severity of the viral infection.
Broadly, precaution is the best cure, and viral infections such as flu, dengue, etc., can be prevented by taking a few precautions.
Dengue is caused by mosquitoes dwelling over stagnant water, especially after the rainy season. The best dengue precaution is to use mosquito nets, mosquito repellents, mosquito racquets, wear clothes that provide full coverage, drain stagnant water, and maintain personal hygiene.
Similarly, mosquitoes spread the malarial parasite, and precautions are the same as precautions for dengue.
Precautions should be taken to avoid secondary bacterial or fungal infections. The black fungus causes mucormycosis – an acute and life-threatening disease. The best black fungus precaution is limiting sugar intake, monitoring your blood glucose level, keeping personal hygiene, and adding immunity boosters into your diet.
Most of the viral infections that spread through the air or skin contact can be prevented by taking various health precautions such as washing hands frequently, using hand sanitizer, avoiding touching your face, nose, or mouth, etc. Sexually transmitted diseases can be prevented by taking health and safety precautions such as using condoms, being monogamous, having safe sex, etc.
You can add the following products to your bucket this festive season to avoid catching viral infections.
- Pure Nutrition Vitamin C tablets
- Patanjali Amla Chatpata Candy
- Dabur Honey
- All Out mosquito repellent spray
- All Out Kit
- Hit anti-mosquito racquet
- Antiviral medications
- Anti-cough/cold medications
- Hand wash
- Hand sanitizer
To conclude, viral infections are more common than you think, and a weak immune system is the best entry point for viruses. During the festive season, you might not take good care of yourself as you tend to eat more sweets or processed food, exercise less, and stay awake late at night. However, a few precautions, exercise, and the addition of immunity boosters to your diet can prevent you from catching these seasonal and common viral infections.
Shop for various products to boost your immunity, keep mosquitos away, and enjoy the festive season.