What Is An Airborne Disease? Knowing Its Causes, Cures and Preventive Measures

Airborne disease refers to any disease caused by the small pathogenic microbes like viruses, fungi or bacteria. It gets spread through those microbes, discharged in the air when an infected patient coughs, sneezes, laughs or exclaims or talks or even exhales through personal contact.

Airborne Disease

Further, spraying of liquids, raising of dust and particles/ respiratory and water droplets generated through the aerosolization of such microbes can also cause this problem.

The person with less immunity contracts the disease, when he inhales such microbes or contacts mucus membrane or when he touches the secretions sticking to the surface. This is generally known as ARI (acute respiratory infections).

Malnutrition generally attributed to poverty, usage of bio mass fuels like firewood/ cow dung/ coal overcrowding, unsanitary living conditions like residing along the gutters/ ditches, low birth weight and other infections are the reasons for the people to be infected with this disease. It is so worse that it kills millions of people, especially kids in the age of 5 years and below.

The symptoms for different airborne diseases range from simple coughing, fever, diarrhea, sore throat, chills,  head ache, body aches, muscle pain, fatigue, excessive night sweats, weight loss, tiredness, rashes, light sensitivity, vomiting blood or phlegm. Certain symptoms are specific for the concerned disease and it can then be easily diagnosed.

Types of Airborne Disease

Some of the airborne diseases may lead to a fatal condition, if not properly treated. Some instances are fungal disease arising on account of mold spores, pathogenic fungi, involving lungs and various toxins in the atmosphere. Measles and Diphtheria have been eradicated in the developed countries. Here are some common types of airborne diseases.

  • Tuberculosis (TB) or Pulmonary Tuberculosis
  • H1N1 Flu or swine flu
  • Influenza
  • Measles
  • Diphtheria
  • Chicken pox
  • Smallpox
  • Mumps
  • Meningitis
  • Anthrax (Inhalational)

Some other diseases in this category include neonatal tetanus, pertussis and poliomyelitis.

Precaution and Prevention of the Disease

Certain precautions and preventive measures should be practiced by the patients themselves, in the interest of his attendants or others around him do not fall a prey to this contagious. Certain preventive measures are to be followed by the attendant or other persons around the patient as safeguard.

Some of the preventive measures are to be enforced by the clinic or hospitals, which are vulnerable areas for the spread of this disease. Many of the airborne diseases require continuous contact or prolonged exposure to the disease source like surface of secretion. Hence, do not encourage such things.

However there are vaccination and immunization methods that help in treating the problem, there are certain preventive methods which when utilized can help prevent the disease. Here we discuss some helpful precautions and preventive measures which can be followed to control the disease.

  • If certain social and respiratory manners are meticulously followed, spread of the disease can greatly be controlled.
  • Keep the environment clean; do not accumulate things like garbage, biological wastes
  • The patients should not move out of home, when ill with such airborne disease.
  • The patient should just before he tends to cough or sneeze cover strategically his mouth with his own hands or tissues.
  • Do not be in close contact/ tough with the patients; or limit to the minimum the duration of such contacts.
  • Ensure good hand washing, wherever necessary and wherever possible. Use appropriate hand disinfection.
  • Keep fairly sufficient distance from the ill person.
  • Wear personal protective equipments (PPE) like masks/ gloves/ gowns/ respirator/ eye protector; clean/ replace it periodically.
  • Maximize the ventilation of your place.
  • Exposure to a patient or animal with an airborne disease does not guarantee receiving the disease. Because of the changes in host immunity and how much the host was exposed to the particles in the air makes a difference to how the disease affects the body.
  • Environmental controls include proper ventilation using ventilation devices, local exhaust, filtration to remove infectious particles, ultraviolet germicidal, irradiation, airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIR).
  • Environmental management with HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) expertise and engineering alternatives may help reduce the transmission of water droplets aerosolized pathogens.
  • Generally, doctors do not prescribe antibiotics for patients to control viral infections. However, to flu patients, doctors prescribe antibiotics, for controlling or preventing bacterial secondary infections or to combat the pneumonic plague and the similar air-borne bacterial primary infections.

How Installing Air Purifier Helps?

Frankly speaking there is no air purifier which is 100 per cent effective in removing airborne pathogens. But use of a good air purifier can help make the interiors healthy and hygienic. So considering a good air purifier is a must for all, especially for those who are suffering from breathing problems.

HEPA (High-efficiency particulate air) filters are not similar to pore-sized filters used in the laboratories to culture microbes; hence they cannot handle particle size of 0.3 micron and hence are not suitable to insulate us from airborne viruses. There are automated air purifiers, which can respond to chemicals and particle levels.

Germicidal air purifier will ensure continuous high power operation (noise pollution is a problem here) and be effective in combating airborne pathogens. It will be more useful for safe or sick room applications. Some HEPA cleaners may stand the test of germicidal purifiers.

UV air purifiers are content with sterilizing the filter, forgetting the main aim of reducing airborne pathogen density. Air purifiers with UVC light is the proven technology for air disinfection; but seldom applied in air purifiers, especially at the low end units.

PCO – Photo catalytic oxidation is the merging technology. It considers all the aspects like UV powered, germicidal filtration, self cleaning and low maintenance.

Using various air purifiers thus ensures that you breathe healthy air and can keep yourself free from various health problems.

How Installing Humidifier Helps?

It has been experienced that the moist air will be more helpful than the dry air for some of the airborne pathogens like the ones causing flu. Also, moist air will soothe the inflamed and irritated airways. Humidifier may hold those people with cold coupled with thick nasal secretions, by thinning out such secretions and thus making the breathing easier.

Too dry indoor air is the cause for dry skin. Humidifiers can help in keeping the air in optimum control i.e. not too moist or not too dry.

Humidifiers, especially central humidifiers, by allowing the airborne pollutants to grow or expelling in aerosol droplets and enabling the breath of such polluted air/ vapor, may also be the reason for certain diseases especially to the young and elder persons and also infirm persons. One should check humidifier controls are in working order.

For this, the manufacturer’s instructions relating to cleaning and maintenance should be scrupulously followed. These may include daily cleaning, weekly sanitizing, sanitizing the ultrasonic humidifiers with undiluted hydrogen peroxide (3%) in a proper manner.

Whatever may be causes, practice of hygienic living in eco-friendly shelters and taking pre-cautious steps will keep the diseases away from you.

You May Also Like Reading