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Virus or bacterial infection? Become a know-all now!

Updated on September 14, 2011
Atchoo! I wonder if I got it from the rain?!
Atchoo! I wonder if I got it from the rain?!

Can you catch a cold from the rain?

The answer is no! Here is the explanation!

I am a bit fed up with every one claiming they have the flu every time they blow their nose or they rush off to the doctors trying to get antibiotics for their 'cold' only to be sent home swearing and cursing at the doctors failure to prescribe. "Don't go outside with wet hair you will catch a cold!" people love to tell me while I roll my eyes to myself! "Don't walk outside with bare feet!" I won't but only so I don't step on glass! Now you can ONLY catch a virus or bacterial infection from another person, contaminated surface, food or drink. This includes coughing, sneezing, nose blowing, sharing utensils, consuming contaminated food and drink, sharing towels, rusty nails, kissing, sexual contact, dirty syringes, swimming pools, dirty hospitals, unsterilised equipment. The only way the weather could affect a person sickness - wise is by lowering the immune system temporarily while the body tries to keep it's core temperature stable. This would occur at freezing outdoor temperatures and no clothes on at all. Sometimes also the cold air can irritate sensitive nasal passages and lungs which can lead to a higher chance of catching an infection from someone else but the truth is someone has to be sick around you and spread the germs to you for you to catch a cold!

What is a virus, what does it cause and how do we kill it?

A virus is a structure containing nucleic acid inside a protein coat. It has no cells, creates no waste and can not reproduce itself. It's intention is to get inside our human cells, take over (kill) them and make copies of itself. It is labelled a 'parasite' as it can not live outside a host cell. Viral infections are responsible for the common cold ( adenovirus, rhinovirus, coronavirus), HIV and AIDS, some gastro, some tonsillitis, influenza, some meningitis, some pharingitis, chickenpox, polio, warts, cold sores, meazles, hepatitis, SARS, and many more. There are no benefits whatsoever to a virus. A virus can not be killed with any medication. It is entirely up to the person's own immune system to fight off the virus. Most viral infections last up to 10 days. Some last a little longer!

What is bacteria, what does it cause and how do we kill it?

Bacteria is a single cell with ribosomes, strand of dna, a cell wall, cytoplasm and a flagellem. It's intention is to divide itself in half to make exact copies of itself. Bacteria is both harmful and beneficial depending on what type it is. Humans are not able to survive without certain bacteria in their bodies. An example of good bacteria is lactobacilli and bifidobacteria found in the intestines.They aid us by balancing the bad bacteria in our guts, helping ward out any new bad bacteria entering the body and aiding digestion. Harmful bacteria known as pathogenic bacteria cause infections such as ear infection, tonsillitis, H pylori (causing gastritis and stomach ulcers), MSRA Golden Staph skin infection, STI's such as Chlamydia, strep throat, abcess, bacterial sinusitis, meningitis, salmonella, pharingitis, anthrax, tuberculosis, dental cavities. Bacteria is killed by the immune system or by consuming or applying antibiotic medicine or treatments which will speed up the process of recovering. You need a prescription from a doctor in order to buy one from the chemist.

What about headaches? They are usually caused by the resulting fever triggered by a virus or bacterial infection. The pressure of sinus infection can cause headaches. Serious and persistent headaches should always be checked by a doctor for other serious causes.

How can I distinguish the difference between a viral or bacterial infection?

Viruses usually infect many parts of the body at once such as runny nose, cough, sinus congestion, body aches and pains, sore throat, fatigue. Cold sores are an example of localised-only viral infections which does not affect the whole body.

Bacteria - this is usually a localised infection affecting only one or two areas of the body at once.

Check the colour of your nasal discharge or cough sputum.

White or clear indicates an allergy or viral infection. This can be tinged with blood also.

Yellow indicates inflammation from allergy or viral infection.

Green indicates a bacterial infection

Fever: Any body temperature rising above 37.5 C is considered a fever. Viruses usually cause a low-grade fever (38.5C and lower) while bacterial infections can cause a high-grade fever (up to 40 C and over).

Duration : Viral infections usually last 7-10 days. Bacterial infections persist more than 2 weeks.

What can I do?It is important to drink lots of water and get plenty of rest during infection from both. There are many over-the-counter ailments which can lessen the symptoms for the duration of your cold or infection such as cough medicine, paracetamol. A person is generally contagious from a viral infection 1 day before symptoms appear to 7 days after first signs of infection. For a bacterial infection a person is contagious for as long as symptoms are showing. Somebody on antibiotics is not contagious after 48 hours of using antibiotics. So keep your germs to yourself these times, wash your hands often, cover your cough, don't kiss, use protection during sexual activity and avoid going to people's houses for at least a week even if they say they feel better! The best thing you could also do is not yell out "It's raining viruses!"


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