Bacterial and Viral InfectionsBacterial

Bacterial and Viral Infections

Bacterial infections are caused by bacteria, and viral infections are caused by viruses. Perhaps the most important distinction between bacteria and viruses is that antibiotic drugs usually kill bacteria, but they are not effective against viruses.

Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms that thrive in many different types of environments. Some varieties live in extremes of cold or heat. Most bacteria cause no harm to people, but there are exceptions. Infections caused by bacteria include strep throat, tuberculosis and urinary tract infections. Inappropriate use of antibiotics has helped create strains of bacterial diseases that are resistant to treatment with different types of antibiotic medications.
Viruses are even smaller than bacteria and require living hosts such as people, plants or animals to multiply. Otherwise, they cannot survive. When a virus enters your body, it invades some of your cells and takes over the cell machinery, redirecting it to produce the virus. Diseases caused by viruses include chickenpox, AIDS and common colds. In some cases, it may be difficult to determine whether a bacterium or a virus is causing your symptoms. Many ailments such as pneumonia, meningitis and diarrhea can be caused by either type of microbe.
Bacterial and Viral Infections
Bacterial and viral infections have many things in common. Both types of infections are caused by microbes bacteria and viruses, respectively and spread by things such as coughing and sneezing, contact with infected people, especially through kissing and sex, contact with contaminated surfaces, food, and water, contact with infected creatures, including pets, livestock, and insects such as fleas and ticks. Bacterial and viral infections can cause similar symptoms such as coughing and sneezing, fever, inflammation, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and cramping  all of which are ways the immune system tries to rid the body of infectious organisms. But bacterial and viral infections are dissimilar in many other important respects, most of them due to the organism’s structural differences and the way they respond to medications.
Treatment of Bacterial and Viral Infections
The discovery of antibiotics for bacterial infections is considered one of the most important breakthroughs in medical history. Unfortunately, bacteria are very adaptable, and the overuse of antibiotics has made many of them resistant to antibiotics. This has created serious problems, especially in hospital settings. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, and many leading organizations now recommend against using antibiotics unless there is clear evidence of a bacterial infection. The treatment of viral infections has proved more challenging, primarily because viruses are relatively tiny and reproduce inside cells. But the use of antiviral medications has been associated with the development of drug-resistant microbes.