What are Viruses and How do They Spread?

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What are Viruses and How do They Spread?

Some viruses do not kill the cells that they infect, but instead they change their functions, and in general, they affect in a specific way a specific type of cells

Viruses are infectious organisms that need to invade a cell in order to reproduce. The virus inoculates its DNA or RNA inside the cell and forces it to replicate its genetic material while causing cell death, which releases new viruses, capable of infecting other cells. Some viruses do not kill the cells they infect, but instead they alter their functions, and in general, they affect in a specific way a specific type of cells (digestive, respiratory …).

Viruses spread through different routes: ingestion, inhalation, through sexual secretions, through insect bites, through blood transfusions or in the birth canal. All in all, the human body has defense mechanisms to deal with viral infections, starting with the skin that acts as a physical barrier.

When entering the body, the presence of the virus triggers the immune system, which activates some types of white blood cells specialized in the defense against viruses: lymphocytes and monocytes, which are responsible for recognizing the viruses and cells affected by them. them, attack and stop the infection. When a virus infection passes, antibodies against this virus will be created, which will give a faster response against it in case of reinfection; It is what is called immunity, which is also acquired through vaccines for certain viruses and bacteria.

The most frequent infections caused by viruses

Respiratory infections, at the level of the nose, throat, upper respiratory tract, and bronchi; the most common are colds, sinusitis, pharyngitis, influenza, bronchiolitis or bronchitis.

Digestive infections, the most common being gastroenteritis, caused in general by norovirus and rotavirus.

Liver infections, hepatitis caused by viruses type A, B, and C, having a vaccine for the first two types.

Infections of the nervous system, such as meningitis or encephalitis caused by different types of viruses, such as rabies, polio, measles or different enteroviruses.

Viral skin infections that only affect the skin and cause warts, or rashes that we call rashes.

Common symptoms in a viral infection

Despite the specific symptoms of each device caused by different viruses, viral infections usually present with fever, malaise, fatigue, joint, and muscle pain. Also, some viruses affect different organs and systems simultaneously, such as some enteroviruses or cytomegalovirus infections.

Some viruses can modify the DNA of the cells that they invade so that the accumulation of changes and errors in the cells can alter their correct functioning and degenerate, in some cases, in cancer. There has been a relationship between certain types of virus and the development of neoplasms in the case of cancer of the nose and throat, liver, uterus, colon and rectum and some lymphomas.

The diagnosis of most viral infections will be made based on the symptoms, with a medical examination and physical examination. In infections that spread epidemically, the presence of other similar cases can help in the diagnosis. In some cases, you may need blood tests and cultures. In the analytic one can value the presence of parts of the virus or of specific antibodies against it.

Recommended treatments against viruses

Most virus infections do not have a specific treatment. However, it is possible to perform symptomatic treatment for each of the non-specific manifestations that may occur:

Liquids in large quantities, sometimes administered intravenously, soft diet and probiotics in cases of diarrhea.

Antiemetics in case of vomiting in a context.

Paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in case of fever or pain.

Soothing or moisturizing creams for skin rashes.

Antihistamines and calamine solution for itching.

Nasal decongestants, such as phenylephrine, for rhinitis.

Anesthetic pills such as benzocaine to relieve sore throats

Hyaluronic acid for canker sores or topical treatments for skin warts.

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