Why Viral Infections Are Hard to Treat

Written by Pliro
Apr 20, 2017 Last updated: Apr 21, 2017

We often mistake viruses for bacteria. Whereas most bacteria are pretty much harmless, viruses generally cause diseases. Viruses are tiny capsules that contain genetic material inside them. They cause various kinds of infections like the common cold, cough and flu but severe diseases such as chickenpox, HIV and AIDS may also occur. Various reasons make viral infections quite difficult to treat. Let us look at these reasons in detail.

About Viruses

Viruses need living cells to survive. They invade these cells and use them to multiply and reproduce. As a result, the original healthy cell bursts and dies, causing sickness and disease. They are much tinier than human cells and come in all shapes to infect cells wherever they can find. Our immune system plays a major role in dealing with viruses. It can help destroy the virus if it is strong enough to recognize a threat. However, if it isn’t then the virus takes over and causes infection.

How Viruses Attack

The virus attaches itself to the surface proteins of the host cell. Then it releases its genetic material, RNA or DNA to the cell. This genetic material then hijacks the machinery of the host cell, using it to make multiple replicas of itself. Once virus replicas are made, they are then released from that cell to infect other cells, repeating the same process over and over again.

Why Viruses are Hard to Treat

Viruses are hard to treat because they are a hundred times tinier than human cells. Furthermore, they use these very cells to stay protected from antibiotic medication, which travels through the bloodstream. Additionally, the viral envelope, which is the external coating on the virus, is almost exactly like the membranes of the host cell. This makes it even harder to identify and differentiate between the two. This is the reason why antibiotics do not work for viral infections, and it is important to know whether the infection is caused by a virus or bacteria, before treating it.

Ways of Treating Viral Diseases

The best way of treating viruses is to ensure that they are prevented from ever entering the bloodstream. In other words, rather than finding methods of treatment after they have invaded cells, we need to find ways to prevent them from entering as it is. The first and foremost way to do it is to take steps to make the immune system stronger. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and keeping a safe distance from those with viral infections are key towards empowering the immune system. Moreover, many new anti-viral medications have been developed, which are designed for the specific purpose of targeting viruses.

In conclusion, it is safe to say that although viruses are hard to cure, treatment is available and destroying them is possible.