Immunizations play an important role in the prevention of infectious diseases, which are caused by certain types of bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. While not all infectious diseases can be prevented through immunizations, many can, including:
- Chickenpox (varicella)
- Hepatitis A and B
- HPV (human papilloma virus)
- Flu (influenza)
- Japanese encephalitis
- Shingles (herpes zoster)
- TB (tuberculosis)
When your body encounters an infection, your immune system combats the infection by producing germ-fighting tools. After the infection passes, your immune system “remembers” how to protect the body against that disease. This is called immunity. Immunizations help develop immunity by imitating infections. These infections do not cause illness but stimulate the immune system to produce the germ-fighters that will keep you protected. After an immunization, it’s possible that you may develop symptoms of a disease before your immune system responds fully. However, these side effects are mild compared with the serious symptoms that immunizations are designed to prevent.
Individuals who have already contracted an infectious disease are often prescribed medication to combat the infection-causing organism. For example, since the types of infectious diseases are caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi, a physician may prescribe either antibiotic, antiviral, antiparasitic, or antifungal medication. Depending on the type and extent of the infection, further treatment may be required.
Many patients turn to natural therapies such as essential plant oils and supplements to combat the symptoms of an infectious disease. While these methods often deliver positive results, they should not be used in place of prescribed medications or immunizations. It is also important to consult with a physician prior to using these methods, since such substances may cause allergic reactions or interfere negatively with prescribed medication.
With a team of experienced physicians, surgeons, and infectious disease specialists, Tampa General Hospital offers a full spectrum of infectious disease treatment. For a physician referral, please use our Physician Finder.