What is an Infectious Disease?
Your body is home to a microbiome full of bacteria, pathogens, fungi, and viruses. Typically, they don’t cause any harm. But sometimes, microorganisms can cause disease.
You can also contract infection-causing pathogens or parasites from other people, animals, insects, or contaminated food.
Because symptoms and severity often vary, infectious diseases can be challenging to diagnose and treat. Infectious disease doctors are experts that specialize in identifying and treating a wide range of these conditions.
What Does an Infectious Disease Doctor Do?
There are dozens of infectious diseases, from the flu and pneumonia to the common cold.
Infectious disease doctors are trained in clinical and laboratory skills to make the right diagnoses and organize the best treatment plans. They continue to train in the field, which helps them to understand diseases better — due to factors like:
- An increase in the severity of infections
- Higher rates of antibiotic resistance
- The rise of new infections, like MRSA or Norovirus
- The popularity of international travel
Infectious disease doctors test your blood or other body fluids to look for specific antibodies — cells produced by our immune system to fight harmful foreign substances. These tests can indicate what kind of infection is present.
For bacterial infections, treatment usually involves antibiotics. These can be administered orally or directly into your veins through an IV.
Other diseases may require antivirals, antifungals, or an anti-parasitic to treat the infection. Infectious disease doctors may also recommend vaccination.