Sunday, April 14, 2013

Infectious Diseases First Reader

           There are so many things to consider when one mentions the word disease. As noted from the readings, the concept is dense; there are a variety of mechanisms, hypotheses, causations, types, and transmission methods. Because I do want to become a physician in the future, I am studying a lot of disease mechanisms and triggers in my biology courses. I feel like the material is highly relevant to me in understanding the basic science behind diseases.

            The chapters in Medical Anthropology overlapped with a lot of the information I had previously been exposed to, such as the immune system and antibody/antigen recognition, viral infections, and modes of pathogenic transmission. It even reinforced a lot of my research I was doing for my 20% project on allergies. Though I am specifically analyzing food allergies, the idea is essentially the same. A food allergy is nothing more than an inflammatory response triggered by your immune system when it comes across a foreign antigen. Those allergic to specific foods cannot properly recognize the antigens found in that food.

            What I found interesting were the proposed hypotheses for rates of allergy and asthma. To me, it seems as if the Hygiene Hypothesis would be more relevant to the spread of diseases rather than the spread of allergies. Hygiene typically involves the killing of bacteria and microbes instead of masking of antigens, so it was surprising to me that the Hygiene Hypothesis has become prominent. On the same page as hygiene, I do believe that the increased need for cleanliness in developed countries has contributed to infections. Similar to antibiotic resistance, the continuous repression of less harmful forms of illness and pathogens can lead to growth in rates. However, how should this be combated? It’s unrealistic to expect patients and physicians not to take immediate action in the face of “danger”. Instead of limiting people’s resources, I believe focusing on new research and treatment methods is moving in the right direction.

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