Difference Between Bacterial and Viral Infections

Difference Between Bacterial and Viral Infections

What are bacteria? They are micro-organisms that are neither plant nor animals. They are said to be a single-cell micro-organisms. While so many bacteria are helpful to the body, some of them are dangerous to the health. The ones that are dangerous to the health are known as pathogens. Bacteria come in three main shapes – spherical, rod shaped and spiral ones. Bacteria can be found in soil, radioactive waste, water, plants, animals, inside the earth crust, organic materials and even in the depth of the ocean.

The Danger of Bacteria

Dangerous bacteria known as pathogens have been known to cause several life threatening diseases. Some of the diseases caused by pathogens are cholera, diphtheria, pneumonia, tuberculosis, typhus and typhoid. Generally, bacteria are said to be more dangerous than viruses because infections caused by bacteria last longer viral infections.

Having given a brief description of bacteria, virus should be discussed too. What are viruses? A virus is a micro-organism that can live and replicate in either a plant cell or an animal cell. Once a virus finds its way into the cell of an organism, it begins to multiply with the aid of the chemical composition of the cell. Just like bacteria, some viruses are advantageous to human lives while a lot of them are dangerous to human lives because they cause different diseases. Some of the diseases caused by viruses are Marburg, Avian flu, influenza, cold and HIV.

How Do They Differ?

The major difference between a viral infection and a bacterial infection is that antibiotics can cure a bacterial infection but not a viral infection. The implication of this is that whenever you have an infection and you take some antibiotics and you do not feel better in about 48 hours, then the infection may not be a bacterial infection but a viral infection. Apart from this difference, there are some other differences between bacterial and viral infections.

A viral infection usually affects all the parts of the body while a bacterial infection affects only specific parts of the body like the throat and the chest. The color of your phlegm could also be a differentiator. When you have a viral infection, the color of your phlegm would be cloudy. But for a bacterial infection, the color of the phlegm would be green, yellow or bloody. Duration of the infection makes a difference too. While viral infections are known to last for less than 10 days, bacterial infections usually last longer than 10 days.

Finally, bacterial infections are usually accompanied with mild fever but viral infections do not cause fever. While the differences mentioned here are just guides, the most effective differentiator is the doctor’s diagnosis. That is why it is always advisable to see a doctor before jumping to conclusion.