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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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 Effects of Antibiotics?
- Severe watery diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
- Allergic reaction (shortness of breath, hives, swelling of lips, face, or tongue, fainting)
- Vaginal itching or discharge.
- White patches on the tongue.
- 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.
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.
- Top 10 Antiviral Herbs
- Elderberry. Elderberry has a long, rich history of use for medicinal benefits by numerous cultures.
- Astragalus Root.
- Cat's Claw.
- Licorice Root.
- 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.
- 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