Bacterial vs Viral

Know the difference!

Sometimes it’s hard to understand what is causing the illness that is making us sick. Often times we think an antibiotic will cure the illness that we are suffering from, but that is not always the case. Lots of the common illnesses that we suffer from are either caused by a bacteria or virus. While they can have the same symptoms, they are very different.

Bacteria are everywhere – the air, on plants and animals, and even in our body. Most of them are harmless and even helpful to our body, like the ones in our digestive system that help breakdown food. Less than 1% of bacteria are actually harmful to us, but it is important to have the right balance of good and bad bacteria in our body. Thankfully, there are antibiotics that can help fight off the bacteria that is causing trouble.

Viruses are a different story. While bacteria live on their own and are often times harmless, viruses cannot survive without a host (our body) and often cause disease. There are immunizations and antiviral medications for some viral illnesses. For many viral illnesses, antiviral medications are not currently available and the only way to get over the illness is to let it run its course with symptomatic treatment only (i.e. cough medicine). It is important to note that *antibiotics will not cure a viral illness*.

Not sure if an illness is bacterial or viral? Let us help.

Bacterial illnesses:

  • Strep throat
  • UTIs (urinary tract infections)
  • Tuberculosis
  • And MORE!

Viral illnesses:

  • Common cold
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Chickenpox and shingles
  • Herpes simplex virus
  • And MORE!

*There are some illnesses that can be caused by both a bacteria or virus, such as bronchitis, ear infections, and sinus infections.