Infection is a medical condition in which a pathogenic organism, such as a virus or bacteria, invades the body and multiplies, causing harm to the host. Infections can be localized, affecting just one area of the body, or systemic, affecting multiple areas of the body. Symptoms vary depending on the type of infection but commonly include inflammation, fever, fatigue, and pain. In some cases, complications from an infection can be severe and even life-threatening. Many health conditions are caused by microorganisms entering the body through contact with infected surfaces, particles from an infected person’s coughing or sneezing, and sometimes even sexual relations. Vaccines have been made available for numerous infections to limit their transmission and protect against them. When a person has an infection, their immune system will attempt to fight it off by producing antibodies that bind to antigens on the surface of the invading organisms and destroy them. The infection can range from days to weeks and even months. The duration depends on its severity and how quickly it is treated with antibiotics or other medications prescribed by a doctor. Treatment may also involve rest, fluids, and fever reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen for symptom relief. If left untreated, they can have serious consequences, including organ damage and death due to sepsis—a rare yet life-threatening reaction to an infection in which toxins released by bacteria cause extreme inflammation throughout the body.
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