Airborne diseases are of multiple types and varieties. There is a range of air-borne diseases, many of which keep evolving with time by adapting to the environment. The most common airborne diseases are:
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Influenza – We all face cough or cold (flu), at least once in our lives. This flu starts affecting us even before there are any visible symptoms. It spreads throughout the body and weakens the immune system.
As there are multiple forms of flu and they can evolve, it becomes difficult to identify them and provide vaccinations for such diseases.
Common Cold – It is the most common type of air-borne diseases. Everyone is susceptible to catch cold many times in their life. In US, every year there are more than a million cases of the common cold.
The most common virus responsible for the cold in US is rhinovirus.
Mumps – These are highly infective and are prone to spread before you can understand the symptoms. It takes 5 days or more for symptoms to show.
With the available vaccination, the spread of mumps has been controlled largely. Its spread is now limited among people living in the congested areas.
Chicken Pox – Chicken Pox spreads through the Varicella-Zoster virus. The symptoms appear after 21 days with rashes, such viral infection mostly happens only once to everyone in a lifetime.
Due to certain reactions, it may develop again in the form of shingles. These are very painful. It can also cause chickenpox to someone, who has never had chickenpox.
Measles – Another highly communicable disease whose virus keeps suspending in the air or sits on contaminated surfaces for hours is measles. It can infect a healthy person before or after four days of the occurrence of rashes.
A total of 140,000 people died due to measles in 2018. It is also one of the crucial reasons for the death of kids across the world. The vaccine available for measles has saved more than 23 million people from 2000 to 2018.
In 2019, there were about 1300 cases of measles in the US. It was observed that the infected people were the ones without vaccinations.
Tuberculosis – It is a kind of disease that spreads through bacteria. It is a communicable disease. It is seen that one can get infected with TB without feeling sick or spreading it to others.
Of 1.4 billion TB cases across the world, the active cases are only 10 million. People with a weak immune system are at a high risk of getting infected due to TB. The symptoms for TB are visible either within a couple of days or may take even months or years in certain cases.
As soon as a person gets infected, the bacteria starts to spread and destroy the immune system and lungs. Then it moves to various body organs through the blood vessels or lymph nodes.
Whooping cough – Also known as Pertussis, whooping cough enlarges the air ducts and transforms into a deadly cough. It is highly infective in the first couple of weeks of cough.
Every year, there are 24 million cases of pertussis, and about 160,700 dying of it.
Diphtheria – It attacks the esophagus and the lungs. Also, it can cause harm to the nervous system, kidneys, and, heart. It is also known to spread majorly in kids and cause death.
Due to the invention of the vaccine, it has become a rare disease. There have been less than 5 reported cases of diphtheria in more than a decade. The last reported cases of diphtheria were in 2016 (7,100 cases).
COVID – 19 – There has been a rapid growth in the spread of novel coronavirus. After the first case appeared in China in 2019, it soon became a pandemic affecting the entire world.
It is also a kind of evolving air-borne disease that mutates with time. Even scientists are still trying to understand its behavior. Every day there seems to be new information regarding its symptoms.
The common symptoms are dry cough, high body temperature, fatigue, and difficulty in breathing.
Many air-borne diseases have the same symptoms like flu or the common cold. Symptoms include:
- Running nose
- Chest congestion
- Body ache
- Loss of strength
- Stuffy throat
- High body temperature
Prevention & Treatments
You can not completely be immune to these diseases and prevention is difficult. The exposure can be reduced with the help of
Vaccination – Vaccines are the most important preventive measure to safeguard oneself from getting infected. Currently, there are vaccinations available for diseases like Measles, Mumps, Chicken Pox, and Flu.
Hygiene – Personal and social hygiene is very important. It decreases the spread of these air-borne diseases. Maintain a safe distance in public, wear face masks, and use tissues or handkerchiefs while sneezing or coughing.
Ventilation – With good ventilation, airborne diseases can be prevented from spreading to a lot of people. All the hospitals have high-quality ventilation, today. This can also be effective for residential buildings.
Treatment of air-borne diseases varies with the type. Some common treatment methods include
Symptom Management – Through regular medication, the spread of airborne disease is controlled somehow. Common cold medicines are mostly used to treat these diseases.
Rest – Long and proper rest effectively helps to recover from these air-borne diseases.
Hospitalization – In certain scenarios when the disease becomes life-threatening, only proper hospitalization is the option. This happens mostly in the case of COVID – 19 or Pertussis.
As air-borne diseases spread quickly, it is very difficult to control them. Only through correct precautionary measures or vaccination, the rate of its progression can be slowed down.