Many parents feel a bit confused when they go to the doctor. Why does he say that it’s viral and so there’s nothing to do? Can’t he just give antibiotics to the suffering kid?
So this post is meant to explain the things in a very simplified way, make a bit of order in all this mess, and – a surprising tip in the end!
I pull my information from medical articles, research, and studies.
So let’s start:
- A Bacteria is a living creature with one cell without a nucleus.
- A virus is not a living creature. And it is not a cell either. It is a structure of its own called virus.
- The difference between living and non-living creature in biology is determined by few criteria. One of the criteria is self-reproduction. Whatever can reproduce on its own, is considered alive. What cannot reproduce on its own is not alive. (Therefore, plants are actually living creatures).
The virus actually cannot reproduce by itself. It needs our body cells for that. It enters the cell, uses the cell mechanisms to multiply itself. And after it multiplies inside the cell, the virus goes out of the cell and kills it.
- Antibiotics are completely useless against viruses! Because the virus is not alive, it can not be killed. The anti-viral medications that do exist, do not kill the virus, but only prevent its reproduction.
- Why are bacteria harmful to us?
First of all, it is important to note that not all the bacterias are harmful, but I’ll talk about that in the next section. The ones that are harmful to us, are harmful because they feed on our tissues (they basically eat us) and then they shit on us with toxins. 😄
- Not all the bacterias are harmful!!! We have more bacterial cells in our body than our own body cells! Many of these bacteria are neutral and do no harm or benefit to us. But many others are useful to us and even necessary and crucial to our lives! In our digestive system, there are plenty of bacteria that help digestion and even help our immune system. On the surface of our skin, we have many bacteria that protect the skin from fungi and various infections. Therefore, over-hygiene is unhealthy in the same way as lack of hygiene.
- As a continuation of the previous sections – antibiotics do not distinguish between bad and good bacteria. It kills them all. So, on the one hand, it helps us kill the invading bacteria. And on the other, it weakens our immune system. And that’s why you should not take antibiotics every time you feel sick, but only when a lab test confirms that there’s a bacterial infection.
- When a doctor says “it’s viral”, it means it’s a virus – that means there’s no way to kill it. So there is nothing to do. You just need to rest, to drink a lot of fluids (which helps our body and our immune system), and wait till it passes by itself.
How does the virus pass “by itself”? Our immune system identifies the body cells infected by the virus (as you remember, we said that the virus uses our cells to reproduce). When the white blood cells identify a virus-infected cell, they kill the infected cell, thus eliminating the virus. Usually, it takes 3-5 days for the immune system to identify and kill all the infected cells. There are also antibodies that “study” the proteins of the decomposed virus, and subsequently know how to identify and attack the virus when it appears next time.
- The vaccines work exactly by this method (the one that is described in the previous section). The vaccines contain dead or weakened viruses or bacteria. This way our body doesn’t get sick, but has the chance to produce the required antibodies to these viruses or bacteria. And next time, when our body is under attack, the antibodies react immediately and kill the invaders.
If we would not vaccinate, then what happens is that from the point we get the infection until our body reacts, and starts to produce the right antibodies, the virus or the bacteria already managed to reproduce and spread and damage our body badly.
- Viruses that do not reside in cells, so the immune system does not kill them, remain in our bodies forever. An example of this is the herpes virus, which happens to exist comfortably in our body, and erupts – that is, it begins to reproduce – from time to time.
- And now a surprise! 🙂 (At least for me this discovery was a surprise…) Yesterday I discovered that toothpaste helps against herpes on the lips, just like the Zovirax ointment! Not as efficient but very close. Why and how? It turns out that the herpes virus needs a moist environment to reproduce. Both ointment and toothpaste dry the skin and thus prevent herpes from multiplying!
So this is it for now. I hope now things are a little bit clearer for you, and if so I would love if you comment and tell me. 🙂