Infectious diseases, also known as transmissible diseases or communicable diseases, comprise clinically evident illness (i.e., characteristic medical signs and/or symptoms of disease) resulting from the infection, presence and growth of pathogenic biological agents in an individual host organism. In certain cases, infectious diseases may be asymptomatic for much or even all of their course in a given host. In the latter case, the disease may only be defined as a "disease" (which by definition means an illness) in hosts who secondarily become ill after contact with an asymptomatic carrier. An infection is not synonymous with an infectious disease, as some infections do not cause illness in a host.
Infectious pathogens include some viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, multicellular parasites, and aberrant proteins known as prions. These pathogens are the cause of disease epidemics, in the sense that without the pathogen, no infectious epidemic occurs.
A general practitioner (GP) is a medical practitioner who treats acute and chronic illnesses and provides preventive care and health education to patients.
As a difference to medical or surgical specialized doctors they intend to practice a holistic approach that takes into consideration the biological, psychological and social environment in which patients live. Their duties are not confined to specific organs of the body, and they have particular skills in treating people with multiple health issues. They are trained to treat patients of any age and sex to levels of complexity that are defined by each country.
Nasal congestion is the blockage of the nasal passages usually due to membranes lining the nose becoming swollen from inflamed blood vessels. It is also known as nasal blockage, nasal obstruction, blocked nose, stuffy nose, or plugged nose.
Nasal congestion has many causes and can range from a mild annoyance to a life-threatening condition. The newborn infant prefers to breathe through the nose (historically referred to as "obligate nasal breathers"). Nasal congestion in an infant in the first few months of life can interfere with breastfeeding and cause life-threatening respiratory distress. Nasal congestion in older children and adolescents is often just an annoyance but can cause other difficulties.
The visible part of the human nose is the protruding part of the face that bears the nostrils. The shape of the nose is determined by the ethmoid bone and the nasal septum, which consists mostly of cartilage and which separates the nostrils. On average the nose of a male is larger than that of a female.
The nose has an area of specialised cells which are responsible for smelling (part of the olfactory system). Another function of the nose is the conditioning of inhaled air, warming it and making it more humid. Hairs inside the nose prevent large particles from entering the lungs. Sneezing is usually caused by foreign particles irritating the nasal mucosa, but can more rarely be caused by sudden exposure to bright light (called the photic sneeze reflex) or touching the external auditory canal. Sneezing is a means of transmitting infections because it creates aerosols in which the droplets can harbour microbes.
Nasal irrigation or nasal lavage or nasal douche is the personal hygiene practice in which the nasal cavity is washed to flush out excess mucus and debris from the nose and sinuses. The practice is generally well-tolerated and reported to be beneficial with only minor side effects. Nasal irrigation in a wider sense can also refer to the use of saline nasal spray or nebulizers to moisten the mucous membranes.
According to its advocates, nasal irrigation promotes good sinus and nasal health. Patients with chronic sinusitis including symptoms of facial pain, headache, halitosis, cough, anterior rhinorrhea (watery discharge) and nasal congestion are reported often to find nasal irrigation to provide relief. In published studies, "daily hypertonic saline nasal irrigation improves sinus-related quality of life, decreases symptoms, and decreases medication use in patients with frequent sinusitis", and irrigation is recommended as an adjunctive treatment for chronic sinonasal symptoms.