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frankzappa

Risk factors & Complications

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Risk factors

While anyone can catch infectious diseases, you may be more likely to get sick if your immune system isn't working properly. This may occur if:

  • You're taking steroids or other medications that suppress your immune system, such as anti-rejection drugs for a transplanted organ
  • You have HIV or AIDS
  • You have certain types of cancer or other disorders that affect your immune system

In addition, certain other medical conditions may predispose you to infection, including implanted medical devices, malnutrition and extremes of age, among others.

Complications

Most infectious diseases have only minor complications. But some infections — such as pneumonia, AIDS and meningitis — can become life-threatening. A few types of infections have been linked to a long-term increased risk of cancer:

  • Human papillomavirus is linked to cervical cancer
  • Helicobacter pylori is linked to stomach cancer and peptic ulcers
  • Hepatitis B and C have been linked to liver cancer

In addition, some infectious diseases may become silent, only to appear again in the future — sometimes even decades later. For example, someone who's had a chickenpox infection may develop shingles much later in life.

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