We have all read and heard about virus particles entering our bodies and causing symptoms of different diseases.
With the pandemic just under the bush, we have understood a lot more about viral infection as Covid-19 was caused by the noble coronavirus which created a huge disruption in the whole world.
Let us understand what are viruses, how they enter our bodies, and how is the body affected by these attacks.
1. What are 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.
As once they enter into a host cell they utilise 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.
2. How do Viruses Enter your Body?
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.
They can even enter through the alimentary canal or the urogenital area, some enter through abrasions on the skin or injury, the eyeball the gastrointestinal tract, depending upon which virus are we considering.
3. How does Virus Infect 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 you catching a viral infection.
Sometimes some animals which are infected like mosquitos can also be the causal agent.
4. Types of Viral Infections
Viral infections can be of various types based on what body part they infect, how they spread and what are the symptoms.
4.1. 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.
4.2. Digestive System Infections
The viral infections attack your stomach and intestines and liver.
These can cause stomach flu, Hepatitis virus causes problems in the liver.
4.3. 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.
4.4. Sexually Transmitted Infections
The diseases are spread through sexual activity like anal, oral, or vaginal sex.
Examples – Genital Herpes, Hepatitis B, and HIV.
4.5. 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 – Polio, Rabies.
5. Symptoms of Viral Infections
Depending upon which virus has infected you you will experience different symptoms.
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 your 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.
6. 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 which involve infection, recovery, and immunisation.
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 some viruses like the herpes viruses, do not leave the body they are not completely flushed out of the system even after complete recovery.
They have the ability to 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.
7. 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 has the capability to mutate, so if a medicine is designed to target one form after the virus mutates its validity will be expired.
Even then two kinds of treatments are available for viral diseases.
7.1. Antiviral Medicines
These function by preventing the virus to make copies of itself and this helps in controlling the spread and reducing 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.
7.2. 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 donator’s blood contains antibodies that provide immunization against the infecting virus. These work in the case of Ebola, Covid -19.
8. End Note
To conclude, there are several ways in which can viruses enter our bodies as well as stay in our bodies.
These things are always not in our hands, but to protect ourselves from viral infections, make sure to wash your hands frequently, follow a healthy diet, and avoid coming in close contact with virus-infected people.