Viral Infections – How Do You Get Them and Why Are They a Problem?

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There is a lot of mystique surrounding viruses, and this is unsurprising considering that being infected by something too small to see can in certain circumstances easily cause your early demise or at least a colorful and highly uncomfortable range of symptoms. In addition to that many a doctor, at a loss for a coherent diagnoses, has "blamed it on a virus."

So what are viruses anyway?

In unschooled layman's terms they can be described as tiny pieces of genetic material surrounded by a protein case. Usually too small to be seen under a "normal" microscope, a medium-sized roundish virus would be about 0.15 microns in diameter. What that means to you and me is that if a family of them held hands and made a circle around a strand of your hair, it would take about a thousand of them to complete the circle, assuming their tummies were flat and they had hands. It stands to reason that they can easily be transported in a fine sneeze mist or come through the air-conditioning at work. Not being technically "alive", they are hard to "kill" inside or outside the body.

1. Problem number one. They are everywhere, especially where there are lots of people in bound spaces. You can inhale them, swallow them in your food, get them on your hands and if you rub your eyes they can get into you that way. They are transported about in your body fluids so kissing and intercourse is a good way of transfering them from one person to another. In short, viruses are very easy to "get".

2. Problem number two. After entering your body through an orifice or cut, they get into your mucous membranes, bloodstream, tissue fluid and float about until they find a type of cell that they can latch on to determined by the particular molecular structure of their coat – certain viruses can latch on to certain types of cell membrane molecules.

Once latched on they are either swallowed whole by the cell which thinks they're a yummy treat or they inject their DNA into the cell – either way the aim being to get their bit of genetic material and other enzymes into your cell. These then override your cell's protein manufacture in favor of their own viral component manufacture and so multiply themselves.

This incidentally is all a highly complicated chemical process and still only partially understood by the best researchers on the planet. After replicating many times inside the cell they burst out of it, normally killing it and then move on to nearby cells so multiplying exponentially. The symptoms of a particular infection can identify the virus, that they are in and cause the same problems in the same organisms in any person's body.

3. Problem number three. To invent a drug to stop this process, it has to either:

a) bond to and so block off the virus surface "bonding" sites. This is great in theory, but as these bonding sites are molecules found on the surface of the proteins that cells actually need, it will probably do the same to those proteins and so starve your cells of them also.

b) bond to the receiving sites on your cell, which defeats the necessary purpose for them being there, again starving your cells.

c) or be absorbed into your cells and interfere with the virus' interference of your cell metabolism – without causing mayhem in the cell which can do as much damage as the virus in any case. For this reason there are few anti-viral drugs and some of them tend to be used only in serious cases and under strict medical supervision because of the side-effects they can cause – including death in some cases which rather defeats their purpose. There are no doubt many other ways to tackle each individual virus strain which may ever be discovered but the challenge is a very complicated one.

On a more cheerful note, your ingenious immune system with its "pathogen police" seems to be able to overcome viral infections most of the time, which is why doctors tend to leave it up to them wherever possible. These immune cells ingest and destroy them, rip them apart using the bits for something else or get them filtered out of your system. They can also sometimes switch them into a dormant mode which means that they have themselves and live without doing any harm while being guests in your body. However like most parasites, they wait until your immune system is weakened for some reason and then come out of their dormant state with a vengeance.

Some varieties can keep mutating which advances your immune system from getting rid of them and this continual warfare can result in varying degrees of ongoing fatigue. Others coat themselves with your own cellular membrane from the last destroyed cell, so fooling your antibodies into thinking they are part of you. Your other cells then "eat" this particle which, like a Trojan Horse, then releases the virus to take over another victim. Still others can hide out in various locations within your body without being detected by your immune cells.

These last conditions are obviously a problem.

All things considered, the much lauded human intelligence is unable to outwit the lowest form of chemical parasite, which is so basic that it is far less complex than a living single-celled organism.

Fortunately the human body is far smarter than the human mind, and can usually bring an infection back to a state of equilibrium or dormancy or destroy it.

Where it does not succeed in doing this, thankfully there is another option. There are other natural (not man-made) substances which can "fill in the gaps" where your immune system has failed. These substances are far more complex than the human mind can devise and their multiple attack strategy far too complicated to fathom. Fortunately, the Maker of man and virus has made them available for our use without having to understand the intricacies of how they work. They are also safe to use by man or beast having no damaging side-effects.

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Source by Terence Hedgcock