Why is it so difficult to treat viral infections?

Many human illnesses are caused by infection with either bacteria or viruses. Most bacterial diseases can be treated with antibiotics, although antibiotic-resistant strains are starting to emerge. Viruses pose a challenge to the body's immune system because they hide inside cells.
A.

Why can viruses not be treated with antibiotics?

Viruses insert their genetic material into a human cell's DNA in order to reproduce. Antibiotics cannot kill viruses because bacteria and viruses have different mechanisms and machinery to survive and replicate. The antibiotic has no “target” to attack in a virus.
  • What can be killed by antibiotics?

    Antibiotics kill bacteria, not archaea, fungi, or protists. The discovery of the antibiotic penicillin in the 1920s made a big impact on human history. Not only did it lead to a cure for bacterial infections that were once deadly, but it also led a big interest in finding new antibiotics.
  • Do antibiotics lose their effectiveness over time?

    It's true the effectiveness of a drug may decrease over time, but much of the original potency still remains even a decade after the expiration date. Excluding nitroglycerin, insulin, and liquid antibiotics, most medications are as long-lasting as the ones tested by the military.
  • Why Antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections?

    Curing a viral infection. Antibiotics are useless against viral infections. This is because viruses are so simple that they use their host cells to perform their activities for them. So antiviral drugs work differently to antibiotics, by interfering with the viral enzymes instead.
B.

Why is taking antibiotics for a virus more harm than good?

Taking Antibiotics For Viral Infections Can Do More Harm Than Good, CDC. Rest, fluids and over-the-counter medication is the preferred option for treating a virus, says the CDC. Colds and many other infections of the upper respiratory tract, plus some ear infections, are not caused by bacteria, but by viruses.
  • Are antibiotics bad for your immune system?

    New study suggests antibiotics can weaken the immune system. While investigating the side effects of antibiotics and how bacteria can develop resistance to them, researchers from MIT and Harvard have found that the drugs can actually work against the body, weakening the immune system's ability to fight off the bugs.
  • What are the side effect of taking antibiotics?

    What Are the Side Effects of Antibiotics?
    • Vomiting.
    • Severe watery diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
    • Allergic reaction (shortness of breath, hives, swelling of lips, face, or tongue, fainting)
    • Rash.
    • Vaginal itching or discharge.
    • White patches on the tongue.
  • Why is it important to take the full course of antibiotics?

    Complete the full course of the drug. It's important to take all of the medication, even if you are feeling better. If treatment stops too soon, the drug may not kill all the bacteria. You may become sick again, and the remaining bacteria may become resistant to the antibiotic that you've taken.
C.

How does your body fight a virus?

Antibodies are a special protein made by B cells. They bind to a virus to stop it from replicating, and also tag viruses so that other blood cells know to destroy them. This means our immune systems are primed to prevent another infection from the same virus, without attacking the body's own cells by accident.
  • What kills viruses naturally?

    Top 10 Antiviral Herbs
    • Elderberry. Elderberry has a long, rich history of use for medicinal benefits by numerous cultures.
    • Echinacea.
    • Calendula.
    • Garlic.
    • Astragalus Root.
    • Cat's Claw.
    • Ginger.
    • Licorice Root.
  • Do viruses stay in your body for life?

    Most of the time, our immune system is able to completely get rid of the virus. But some viruses can "hide" inside certain cells in our bodies, and avoid being totally removed by the immune system. Some viruses can do this for a long time. Some can even cause a permanent, life-long infection.
  • How does a virus go away?

    In most types of viral infection, the immune system clears the virus from the body within days to a few weeks. But some viruses cause persistent or latent * infections, which can last for years.

Updated: 2nd October 2019

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