When you get sick, do you know that different microorganisms can cause it and not just bacteria? What we need to remind ourselves when suffering from a disease or health condition is to regard medical consultations as the most important step in fighting our health problem. We know that doctors are capable of discovering the culprit of our sickness, so they can give the appropriate treatment to solve it too. But is a home call doctor capable of telling the difference between a viral and bacterial infection?
Bacterial vs. viral infection: An overview
When talking about the microorganisms in general, there are a lot of differences you can state between a virus and a bacterium. Bacteria are small but are bigger microorganisms when compared to viruses. Bacteria can reproduce on their own, while viruses need a host to reproduce. Our body contains many types of good and bad bacteria, but no virus ever invaded the body that did not cause disease.
Home call doctor on bacterial or viral respiratory diseases
One of the most common targets of both bacteria and viruses is the patient’s respiratory system. Bacteria are linked to most ear, nose, throat (ENT), and sinus infections, as well as bronchitis, pneumonia, and whooping cough. Viruses, on the other hand, are little parasites that reproduce rapidly and cause the common cold, the flu, and certain types of pneumonia. If the respiratory illnesses are not serious—the culprit is usually a virus and not a bacterium.
How to address or diagnose bacterial or viral infections
Now that coronavirus outbreak has been the mainstay in all radio, TV, and online news, one cannot avoid the need to know how one should address a disease-causing microorganism like a virus. But how can one tell a viral infection from one that is caused by bacteria?
It can be hard and tricky for a medical professional, a home call doctor at that, to know what causes an infection, specifically because viral and bacterial infections can cause a related or likely the same symptoms. Just to be sure, if your symptoms are too vague and the incubation period of the disease is almost the same, your doctor may need you to submit a sample of your urine, stool, and blood for a culture and sensitivity test to have the bugs identified under a microscope.
Viral or bacterial disease treatment
What can a home call doctor do to treat either a bacterial or viral infection? Here are some of their notable differences:
If an infection is confirmed as bacterial in nature, home call doctors issue antibacterials. Serious infections can be resolved with appropriate antibiotics, in conjunction with the type of germ and the severity of its contamination. Antibiotics work by disrupting the bacterium’s metabolic process, although antibiotic-resistant strains are starting to emerge. What doctors often recommend patients who are not yet affected by a bacterial infection but are exposed to it is to get vaccinated. Immunisation is available to avoid many common bacterial diseases such as tuberculosis, tetanus, and whooping cough(pertussis).
On the other hand, antibiotics are useless against viral infections. This is because viruses are so simple that they use their host cells to perform their activities for them, so their metabolic process will not be disrupted by the incorrect medication. This fact is the reason why antiviral drugs work differently to antibiotics, whereby they interfere with the viral enzymes instead. Most home call doctors also address viral infections based on their symptoms. For instance, if the infection causes pain, analgesics are prescribed. Antipyretics are given to viral infections that cause fever to the patient, and so on. Many home call doctors also advise patients to get their vaccines from their GP or family doctor. Most vaccines allow you to create an antibody that protects you from getting attacked by a virus. However, not all viral infections have appropriate vaccines to address them directly. This is because most viruses find it easy to mutate and resist the vaccine so they can continue their spread from one person to another.
What should a patient watch out for with regard to bacterial or viral infection?
Home call doctors may always be on the run to help you get urgent care. However, not all conditions can be addressed by them, especially if they are serious and life-threatening situations. If you have a disease-causing infection, when should you decide to visit the nearest hospital for immediate medical assistance?
Whether the infection turns out to be caused by virus or bacteria, you are instructed by your home call doctor to watch you or your child for any of the following signs and bring them to advanced medical attention if they develop:
- Dehydration, as established by low fluid intake; urine output is reported less than three times in 24 hours. In babies, dehydration is manifested by reduced or no tears when crying.
- Difficulty breathing evidenced by fast breathing, nostril-flaring, and the obvious use of rib, stomach, or neck muscles when breathing
- Disorientation or confusion. The patient is assessed to be noticeably inactive or has reduced responsiveness
- The disease and its symptoms did not improve over a three to five-day period
- All children under three months of age with a fever