Although seemingly similar, viruses and bacteria are different as locomotive and elephant, still, many of us are mixing these terms and therefore people tend to think that bacteria and viruses are causing the same symptoms – sore throat, runny nose, headache, vomiting, inflammation processes, high fever, cramps, etc., and often are transmitted in the same or similar way – through saliva or mucus, through food, water, animals, etc. Bacteria and viruses are also called microbes and can be equally dangerous.
Maybe after these facts, it won’t be important to know whether you have viral or bacterial inflammation, but what is important to know from today’s perspective on the medication treatment, is that bacterial inflammations can be cured with antibiotics, while for the viral ones there are no medications, but there are vaccines, and your immunity is always there to help you fight viruses.
The difference between bacteria and viruses
Although both viruses and bacteria are microbes, still they are unbelievably very different. Bacteria are simple organisms, relatively complex. Some are replicating with division, while others with sexual reproduction. They are the oldest residents of planet Earth, adjusted to extreme conditions – cold, heat, radiation; they can live in living organisms and outside of them, and of course they can always reproduce and hibernate. Also, it should be mentioned that 99% of the bacteria are harmless, i.e. even useful when it comes to the normal functioning of the digestive tract, thus ‘only’ that one percent is making problems and causing diseases.
Viruses, on the other hand, are the smallest living organisms on the planet and are even smaller than bacteria for 10 to 100 times. Some scientists consider that viruses are not living organisms, but it is about DNA or RNA information which is transmitted ‘forcibly’ from one cell to another. Viruses aren’t simple organisms like the bacteria: they are acellular organisms that only have a protein coat and a core that carries the genetic material DNA or RNA.
Viruses, however, unlike bacteria, can’t survive outside their hosts (some other organism), because they are reproducing by binding to the cells of its host. In most cases, viruses are injecting their genetic material in the cell and are reprogramming it, thus it becomes a source of new viruses, and the same bursts and dies. In other cases, some viruses are turning the healthy cells in malignant cancer cells. Viruses, unlike bacteria, are not classified as useful or unuseful, i.e. good or bad, because they are always causing serious or minor illnesses. When it comes to the cells they choose to attack, viruses are very picky. Some viruses are only attacking the cells of the liver, others of the respiratory system, and some of the blood cells. Sometimes viruses attack bacteria, as well.