Sunday, December 15, 2013
What's the Difference Between A Virus and a Bacteria Infection?
It's easy to understand why most people are confused about the difference between a virus and a bacteria infection. When you are sick, these two terms are often used interchangeably to describe what type of infection you have. But there is a clear difference between the two.
What is a virus?
A virus is a very small microorganism that is even smaller than bacteria. Viruses grow and multiply by attacking cells. This can include people as well as plants and animals. Examples of diseases caused by viruses are the flu, chickenpox, AIDS and the common cold.
What is bacteria?
Bacteria is a single cell microorganism that lives just about everywhere. In most cases, bacteria does not harm you. Strep throat, tuberculosis, and urinary tract infections are examples of infections caused by bacteria. The Bubonic Plague was caused by bacteria.
Infections caused by viruses and bacteria are not treated the same
The main difference between a virus infection and a bacteria infection is that antibiotics have no affect on viruses. While antibiotics will kill bacteria, it is ineffective if used to treat viruses. This is why your doctor cannot give you a prescription to cure your cold.
What viruses and bacteria have in common
Although viruses and bacteria are different and not treated the same, they are spread in the same manner. This includes coughing and sneezing, contact with infected sources. They also have similar symptoms, such as coughing and sneezing, fever, inflammation, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and cramping.
How to tell the difference
Some general differences are that bacteria lasts longer and most always includes fever. A virus usually has more widespread symptoms where a bacteria infection tends to stay within one area, such as the throat. Phlegm color is also different. A virus may produce phlegm that is clear or cloudy, but a bacterial infection may produce phlegm that is green, yellow, bloody or brown.
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