The human body separates itself form the surrounding environment using several different physical barriers, including skin, mucous membranes, stomach acid, enzymes, and antibacterial components in secretions. Beyond the physical barriers, the body protects itself using both an innate and adaptive immune systems. When a microorganism penetrates physical barriers, gains access to the body, and cannot be immediately controlled by the immune system, it is termed an infection. Infectious agents include bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi.
|Causes||Food, Air, Water, Soil, Hygiene, Stress|
|See Also||Infections / Allergies / Sensitivities, Bacterial Infection, Viral Infections, Parasitic Infections, Influenza|
|Books||Books on Infections, Allergies, Intolerances|
|Articles||Articles on Infections / Allergies / Sensitivities|
- 1 Naturopathic Assessment
- 2 Characteristics
- 3 Naturopathic Treatment
- 4 References
In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. Assessment of infection depends on two factors: personal susceptibility and exposure to a pathogen. The naturopathic assessment looks at both aspects. The stronger a person's vitality the less susceptible they are and typically the likely they will be affected by exposure to a pathogen.
- Diets high in carbohydrates, caffeine, and alcohol, and low in protein, can weaken an individuals immune system and increase a person's susceptibility and the risk of infection.
- The following foods are the most likely sources of pathogens:
- Bacteria such as Salmonella spp, Campylobacter jejuni, E. coli, Shigella spp, Listeria monocytogenes, and Vibrio spp are all commonly transferred in food. Foods commonly implicated in transmission include animal derived foods and other foods washed with contaminated water, or which come in contact with infected individuals. Salmonella is most often associated with eggs, poultry, fruits, vegetables, and meats. Shigella is commonly associated with fruites and vegetables, and E.coli is commonly associated with hamburger, salami, unpasteurized milk, dairy products, and juice.
- Viruses such as Hepatitis A and Norwalk virus can be transferred via foods including animal products and other foods which come into contact with infected individuals. Hepatitis A is commonly associated with shellfish.
- Parasites such as Entamoeba histolytica, Cryptosporidium spp, Giardia lamblia, and Cyclospora spp can be transmitted via foods washed with contaminated water. Some parasites have part of their lifecycle in specific animal species, and are transmitted to humans when these species are ingested.
- Moderate, regular exercise is beneficial in decreasing one's risk, whereas extreme or intense exercise can increase one's risk of infection.
- Sexual Practices
- Unsafe sexual practices can increase the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections.
- Environmental toxins and chemicals are known to weaken the immune system and increase the risk of infection.
- Contaminated Materials
- The inanimate environment, food, fomites, health care staff, catheters, respiratory equipment, and an individuals own flora may all be resevoirs of potentially infective organisms.
- Prescription Mediciations
- Medical Treatments
- Hospital and nursing home acquired infections are a major cause of mortality and morbidity.
- Nosocomial Infections
- Infections acquired after admission to health care facilities are common, as these environments often contain higher number of infective agents, as well as pharmaceutically resistant infectious agents.
- Therapies used to depress the immune system increase the risk of infection.
- Catheterization is correlated with an increased risk of urinary tract infection during hospitalization.
- When any of the routes for the elimination of toxins is blocked the chance of infection is much higher.
Diagnostic testing to evaluate infections is dependent on the type of infection and body system involved. In general, a thorough patient history and case taking are the best tools with which to evaluate for infection. In cases of chronic infections, testing to evaluate immune function may be required. For specific diagnostic testing please see relevant sections including: Viral Infections, Bacterial Infection, Fungal Infection, and Parasitic Infections. 
Related Symptoms and Conditions
Conditions commonly associated with infection include:
Symptoms of infection can be as variable as the causative agents themselves. For a more detailed listing of infection associated symptoms see Bacterial Infection, Fungal Infection, Parasitic Infections, Viral Infections, or search for specific conditions such as Urinary Tract Infection, Influenza, Ear Infections (Otitis media), Sinusitis.
The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Below are general treatment strategies for infections. For specific causes and types of infection a individualized treatment plan is required.
It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.
Home Care strategies include:
- Proper hygiene including hand-washing and basic sanitation practices are the primary means of infection prevention.
- In individuals with mobility issues, frequent repositioning and attention to mattress and pillow quality can help to decrease the risk of infections, specifically bed sores.
Lifestyle recommendations include:
- Although exhaustive exercise may predispose individuals to infection, moderate exercise has been shown to be preventative. Specific exercise advise should be provided on a case by case basis, based on the severity and causative agent of infection, as well as the vitality of the individual.
- Proper breathing is helpful in the prevention and treatment of infection.
The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.
Naturopathic Therapies for infections include:
- Herbs with the following properties are often used in the treatment of infections: antimicrobial, antiviral, antibiotic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiprotozoal, antiseptic, antihelmintic. Herbs are chosen based on the presenting picture and how the infection has impacted health.
- Hydrotherapy is extremely helpful in the prevention and treatment of infection.
Specialized Naturopathic Therapies
Specialized therapies that are used to treat infections include:
Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND 
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