Understanding virus longevity in the human body Understanding virus longevity in the human body

The Silent Intruders- How Do Viruses Stay in Your Body?

We all are aware of viruses and have read and heard about them a lot. However, with the pandemic, we have understood a lot more about viral infection. Do you know that Covid-19 was caused by the noble coronavirus which created a huge disruption in the whole world? Yes, these virus particles enter our bodies and cause symptoms of different diseases.

But have you ever thought about how these viruses enter our bodies? And, how are our bodies affected by their attacks? Here I’ll tell you about everything in detail.

First Let Me Introduce You to the Viruses

Viruses are tiny infectious microbes sizes ranging from 200-400 nm in diameter. They may be rod-shaped or round. They can be multisided with many heads or tails. In biological terms, viruses are just genetic material with a protein coat, which can be either DNA or RNA and sometimes lipids. They lack the machinery for replication and are basically powerless until they infect a host cell.

How Do Viruses Stay In Your Body?
Source- Unsplash

Once they enter into a host cell they utilize their machinery to replicate and further spread the infection in the body. Viruses cause various diseases like the common cold, chicken pox, and influenza to name a few.

But, Do You Know How They Enter Our Bodies?

Well, It is a well-known fact that viruses are among the most abundant living beings on earth. They are present anywhere and everywhere you can think. A virus first finds an entry point into the host’s body which can be via the mouth/nose or even in the respiratory tract.

How Do Viruses Stay In Your Body?
Source- Pexels

They can even enter through the alimentary canal or the urogenital area. Some enter through abrasions on the skin or injury, the eyeball, or the gastrointestinal tract.

I’ll Tell You How Viruses Infect the Human Body

Viral infections are very contagious and as they replicate by adapting the host cell’s mechanism they spread from one person to another on close contact, to keep reproducing more.

  • A person can get a viral infection from an infected person’s coughing or sneezing, through infected surfaces or objects like doorknobs, phones, or countertops, and also through oral, vaginal, or anal sex.
  • Consumption of unhealthy or contaminated food items or beverages/water can also lead to catching a viral infection.
  • Sometimes some animals that are infected like mosquitos can also be the causal agents.

Basically, There Are 5 Types of Viral Infections

Viral infections can be of various types based on what body part they infect, how they spread, and the symptoms.

  • Respiratory Infections– These can affect your nose, throat, lungs, and the airways. Symptoms include bronchitis, sinusitis, ear infections, and pneumonia. Examples – Common cold, Covid-19, Parainfluenza, and Human metapneumovirus.
  • Digestive System Infections– The viral infections attack your stomach, intestines, and liver. These can cause stomach flu, Hepatitis virus causes problems in the liver.
  • Hemorrhagic Fevers– Bleeding-related viral infections, basically weaken your blood vessels and create blood clots that can even be fatal. Examples – Ebola, Yellow Fever, and Dengue.
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections– The diseases are spread through sexual activity like anal, oral, or vaginal sex. Examples – Genital Herpes, Hepatitis B, and HIV.
  • Neurological Infections– The viruses affect your nervous system, causing damage to the brain and the spinal cord and sometimes these can lead to paralysis, meningitis, or encephalitis. Examples are Polio and Rabies.

You Must be Aware of Common Symptoms of Viral Infections

You will experience different symptoms depending on which virus has infected you.

The common symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, body pains, and nausea. You can also experience vomiting, sneezing, diarrhea, and sore throat. Sometimes your skin can have rashes, sores, and blisters.

Having a knowledge of the symptoms and getting them under medical attention is necessary because this is the only way our viral infections can be diagnosed.

The healthcare provider might take some swabs of the nose, tongue, or throat for various infections. Usually, the blood, saliva, sputum, poop, and urine are tested. However, in some cases, MRIs, and X-rays are also done to check the inflammation in your internal organs like the brain or lungs.

So, How do Viruses Stay in your Body?

Although, if we see the common pattern of viral infection we will observe that it follows a series of activities that involve infection, recovery, and immunization.

After you have recovered completely, your immunity cells have now put the virus in the memory cells thus preventing you from being infected again by the same virus. But, I must tell you that some viruses like herpes viruses, do not leave the body. They are not completely flushed out of the system even after complete recovery. They can circumvent the immune system and settle in the body for the long run, even permanently.

So, it has been found out by research that the persistent viruses which stay in the host’s body will find a safe space to linger, which are called spots.

These spots are different because the immune cells do not function as active in these areas as compared to other parts of the body. So, these are basically privileged areas that are under less supervision. In these spots, the virus can easily lay low. They can even slowly start infecting other cells.

The Icy Whiz team talked to Dr. Sameh Aknouk, DDS, Dr. Sameh Aknouk Dental Services PC, about the relationship between viruses and the human body. Here is what he said:

Dr. Sameh Aknouk
Dr. Sameh Aknouk

“In the context of my experience in dental care, particularly in a densely populated urban area such as New York, I have observed the interplay between viral infections and oral health which can mirror the broader dynamics of virus-human interactions.

Viruses enter the body through various portals, often impacting oral health first—consider herpes simplex virus presenting as cold sores or human papillomavirus (HPV) linked to throat and mouth cancers. 

During my practice, I’ve treated numerous patients where oral manifestations were the first sign of a larger viral infection.

This underscores the significant role dental professionals play in the early detection and management of diseases, reminding us that the mouth is indeed a gateway to overall health.

For instance, periodontal conditions have been shown to worsen with co-infections like HIV, impacting the immune response and accelerating both oral and systemic health issues.

The long-term effects of these viral infections on health can be profound. Continuous research and case studies highlight implications such as the potential for HPV to contribute to oropharyngeal cancers long after the initial infection.

Proactive and regular dental check-ups serve not only in managing immediate oral health concerns but also in monitoring for signs that might indicate more serious, systemic health issues.

This integrated approach is crucial in managing patient health holistically, stressing the need for collaboration across specialties in healthcare.”

I have Explained Below a Few Treatment for Viral Infections

Medications for all viral infections are not available very specifically. It becomes very difficult to design antiviral medicines because the virus can mutate. So, if a medicine is designed to target one form after the virus mutates its validity will be expired. Even then, I can tell you these two kinds of treatments available for viral diseases.

1. Antiviral Medicines

These function by preventing the virus from making copies of itself. This helps to control the spread and reduce the length of a respiratory infection. It can also be used for the treatment of chronic infections. These are available for flu, Covid-19, and HIV.

2. Convalescent Plasma Treatment

This process involves blood transfusion to treat the infection and blood from a person who has recovered from the infection is given to the infected person through an IV. The plasma of the donor’s blood contains antibodies that provide immunization against the infecting virus. These work in the case of Ebola, Covid-19.

How Do Viruses Stay In Your Body?
Image by Last Updated on May 7, 2024 by Pragya


Anushree Khandelwal
  1. Viruses are deadly for the human being. Coronavirus has been a deadly virus. That destroyed many families. So we should be careful nowadays and make sure to sanitize our hands regularly, and when going out of a crowded place, we should wear masks as the virus goes inside through our nose, respiratory organs, etc.

  2. I appreciate the inclusion of different types of viral infections, such as respiratory, digestive, hemorrhagic fevers, sexually transmitted, and neurological infections. This categorization adds depth to the understanding of the diverse ways viruses can affect our health. Moreover, the mention of antiviral medicines and convalescent plasma treatment provides valuable insights into the available treatment options.

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