Acute middle otitis: infection of the part of the ear inside the ear-drum membrane, frequently caused by bacteria (c.f).
Antibiotic: a chemical substance extracted from microbes (c.f) or, in more modern terms, obtained by chemical synthesis, which is able to inhibit or kill other microbes, particularly bacteria (c.f), but not viruses (c.f). Antibiotics act selectively on bacteria, interfering with their vital mechanisms (bacterial wall, protein synthesis etc.) and cause their death or blocking their proliferation. They thus help the immune system (antibodies etc.) to cure the infected organism.
Antimycotic: substance that kills mycetes or inhibits their development.
Antiviral Drug: A drug which blocks the replication of viruses. Antiviral drugs can act by interfering with and blocking the various phases of the virus replication cycle.
Bacterial wall: c.f bacterium and antibiotic.
Bacterium: microbe (c.f) made up of a single cell (unicellular) with a simpler structure than the protozoon (c.f). It almost always has an outer lining called "wall" which can be inhibited or killed by antibiotics (c.f). Examples: streptococcus pyogenes (which can cause pharyngo-tonsilitis and scarlet fever); pneumococcus (which can cause acute middle otitis, sinusitis, bronchitis), escherichia (which can cause urinary tract infections).
Bronchitis: infection of the bronchi, frequently caused by viruses (c.f) or bacteria (c.f).
Fungus: microbe (c.f) with a simple structure differing however from that of the Bacterium (c.f). Also called mycetes, and responsible for particular forms of infection known as mycoses (c.f); not inhibited or killed by common antibiotics (c.f).
Herpes Virus: A DNA virus extremely widespread throughout the world. It belongs to the herpesviridae family which includes HSV-1 or herpes simplex type I, the main cause of labial herpes, HSV-2 or herpes simplex type II, the principal cause of genital herpes, and the varicella-zoster virus or VZV which is responsible for chickenpox and herpes zoster. The common characteristic of all herpes viruses is that following initial infection, they remain latent in the organism. Factors of various nature can trigger them to re-activate themselves causing relapses with varying clinical pictures according to the virus involved.
Herpes Zoster: Also known as shingles, it is caused by the re-activation of the varicella-zoster virus which remains latent in the spinal ganglion nerve cells. It is characterized by a skin rash with vesicles similar to those of chickenpox, is generally mono-lateral and is accompanied by a “burning” pain often followed by skin rash, sometimes several days after.
Microbe: minute living organism, invisible to the naked eye but visible with particular microscopes. Some billions of microbes, present for billions of years in the environment, may sometimes invade the fluids or tissues of other living beings (including humans) in great numbers, colonising them and causing infections (c.f). Microbes are generally distinguished into the categories: virus (c.f), bacteria (c.f), protozoons (c.f), fungi (c.f).
Mycosis: infection caused by mycetes; it is almost always acute, rarely chronic. It is cured with antimycotic drugs.
Oral route: way of administering an antibiotic (c.f) by ingestion of tablets or liquid formulations; it is the most-used and most recommended route for infections occurring outside the hospital and treated at home.
Parenteral route: way of administering an antibiotic (c.f) by injection into a muscle or vein; generally reserved for very serious infections such as some pneumonias or meningites, usually treated in hospital.
Pneumonia: infection of the lungs, frequently caused by viruses (c.f) or bacteria (c.f).
Post-herpetic Neuralgia: This is the most frequent complication of Herpes Zoster and is characterized by pain that can persist for a long period of time after the skin lesions have healed. This is due to the nerve cell damage caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This complication’s incidence is strictly correlated to the patient’s age which progressively increases with age, reaching its peak among the elderly.
Protozoon: microbe consisting of a single cell (unicellular) with a more complex structure than the bacterium (c.f), inhibited or killed by particular antibiotics or particular non-antibiotic substances; examples are: toxoplasma, malaria plasmod.
Sinusitis: infection of nasal and paranasal sinuses, frequently caused by bacteria (c.f).
Virus: minute microbe (c.f) consisting of a single nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) coated with proteins, invisible even under the optical microscope and unable to live alone but able to do so inside a human or other living cell. Not inhibited or killed by antibiotics (c.f) but only by antiviral agents; examples are: influenza virus, lip herpes virus, chicken pox and zoster (shingles) virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).