Based on the person’s symptoms, physical examination results, and risk factors, doctors suspect an infection. Doctors first ascertain that the person is suffering from an infection rather than another condition. A person with a cough and trouble breathing, for example, may develop pneumonia (a lung infection). However, the person might be suffering from asthma or heart failure, neither of which is caused by infection. Doctors typically need to know which exact microbe is causing the illness once they have confirmed that the person has one.
We generally imagine something that can infect us and start a disease process when we think about infectious diseases. That “something” might be a bacterium, virus, parasite, or fungus found in a variety of places (other infected individuals, poor hygiene, transfusion with infected blood, shared needles between drug users, etc.).
Early diagnosis is very important for treatment for the following reasons:
- Diagnosis can enhance the efficacy of therapies and help the infected patient avoid long-term consequences.
- Patients who are undiagnosed may unintentionally spread the illness to others. Early detection can aid in the prevention or control of an outbreak.
- Antibiotic resistance is exacerbated by widespread overuse and abuse of antibiotics. Diagnostic testing can tell you when antibiotics are the right medication for you and when they aren’t.
Getting ready for your appointment
You’ll most likely see your primary care physician first. Your doctor may send you to a specialist depending on the severity of your illness and which of your organ systems it has damaged.
What you can do to help
You might wish to make a list that contains the following items:
- Describe your symptoms in detail.
- Information about medical issues you’ve had in the past Information about medical problems your parents or siblings have experienced in the past
- Questions you’d want to ask the doctor about your medicines and dietary supplements
Tests in the lab
The signs and symptoms of many infectious diseases are similar. Body fluid samples can occasionally reveal signs of the microorganism that’s causing the disease. This aids the clinician in infectious disease testing.
- Tests on the blood – A blood sample is obtained by a technician’s inserting a needle into a vein, generally in the arm.
- Urine tests are performed – You must urinate into a container for this painless test. To avoid contamination of the sample, you may be told to use an antiseptic pad to wipe your genital area and collect the urine midstream.
- Swabs of the throat – A sterile swab can be used to collect samples from the throat or other wet regions of the body.
- Sample of faeces – You may be asked to collect a stool sample to be tested for parasites and other organisms in a lab.
- The spine is tapped (lumbar puncture) – A needle is gently placed between the bones of the lower spine to collect a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid. Typically, you’ll be instructed to lie on your side with your legs drawn up to your chest.
- Scannable images – X-rays, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging are examples of imaging procedures that can assist in identifying diagnoses and rule out other illnesses that may be causing symptoms.
- Biopsies – A biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of tissue from an internal organ is removed for examination. A biopsy of lung tissue, for example, can be used to look for the fungus that might cause pneumonia.
Apart from these, infectious agents are bacteria and viruses that cause disease, and some of them may be recognized rapidly utilizing genetic testing procedures. This has sparked a revolution in microbiology laboratories. Many of the most common infectious species are now being detected in clinical specimens using genetic testing techniques based on their DNA or RNA.
- Bacteria are single-celled creatures that have their own DNA and can cause significant illness in some circumstances. Even bacteria that reside inside our bodies innocuously and are involved in helpful activities might turn dangerous under rare circumstances and make us terribly sick. Bacteria can be recognized rapidly by extracting their DNA and amplifying and analyzing particular sections of their DNA.
- Viruses are unique creatures that occasionally inject their DNA into the genome of their hosts. The viral RNA or DNA takes advantage of the host’s cells to create proteins and multiply the virus. All of these viruses may be detected by extracting suspected viral DNA or RNA from a patient sample and utilizing it to create a “fingerprint” of the virus. Much of the testing done on donor blood before it is used in a blood transfusion involves genetic testing to check for virus infection.
- Single-cell creatures like Giardia lamblia can be parasites. Parasites can infect a human by the saliva of a biting insect, such as a mosquito, or through contact with a contaminated substance, such as unclean water, or even through skin burrowing. Toxoplasma gondii, which may cause encephalitis or congenital infections that cause serious harm to a foetus, is an example of a parasite that can be detected via genetic testing