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Viruses

The Difference Between Antiviral Drugs and Antibiotics

There is a wide difference between antiviral drugs and antibiotics, and you should know the effects of these two drug classifications on your body. The range of antiviral medications is narrow while the range of antibiotics is quite full.

Antiviral Drugs

The doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication for you if you suspect you recently were around someone displaying a viral illness such as flu symptoms. If you have good reason to believe you contacted a viral disease, but you are not yet showing signs and symptoms an antiviral medication may prevent you from coming down with that illness, or at least minimize the effect of that disease before it occurs.

An antiviral drug is effective, but only when administered at the first signs of contact or symptoms. An antiviral diminishes the development of the illness.

A few virus includes,

  • Standard coughs
  • Sore throats except for strep throat
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Flu

There are a few drugs in the antiviral category. These drugs used short-term, are not profitable for pharmaceutical companies to research or keep to a high supply.

The antiviral drugs used in the treatment of HIV are in high supply and demand, because of the many people using them and the fact that this particular antiviral drug takes the HIV infection and turns it into a chronic, not terminal condition you can manage.

HIV is not necessarily a life sentence since these antivirals came onto the drug market. Pharmaceutical companies need to put more research into a larger variety of medications to fight other viruses.

If you develop a secondary infection from a virus such as you have the flu, now you develop pneumonia is the flu many times does, you need an antibiotic to fight pneumonia.

Powerful Antibiotics

If you contact a bacterial infection on the outside or inside of the body, the doctor may prescribe for you an antibiotic. There is a broad range of antibiotics on the marketplace today, each offering different targets of healing. Antibiotics kill the bacteria in your body that is making you ill. Antibiotics also stop these bacteria from multiplying and growing.

Doctors today are taught to use extreme caution in ordering patients antibiotics because research is finding more and more people becoming resistive to the usefulness of appropriate antibiotics because people are taking too much of a particular antibiotic and building up a resistance, thus, the antibiotic becomes useless in fighting off bacterial infections for you.

You may go to the doctors when you have a bad case of the flu, and you feel you need an antibiotic. However, the doctor will not prescribe an antibiotic for you because it will not help you get over the flu and in the end, the antibiotic makes your body more harm.

There is an extensive list of reasons why your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic such as but not limited to,

  • Ear infections
  • Strep throat
  • Sinus infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Wound infections
  • Diverticulitis
  • Colitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia

Antibiotics also put up an invisible protective barrier between you and others around you once you have taken the antibiotic 24-48 hours.

Resistance to Antibiotics

  • Do not demand any antibiotics from your doctor if he or she feels you do not need them.
  • Never take antibiotics for viral infections.
  • Never demand an antibiotic every time you get the sniffles or a cough.

Antibiotics are powerful drugs and when used for the right reasons save lives. Take your antibiotic, according to your doctor’s orders. Never skip doses or incomplete an antibiotic because you feel better and think you are over the infection.

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How to Avoid Getting a RVBP Infection

There really is no time of year when illnesses of some sort are not prevalent but when the weather turns cold, germs seem to be everywhere you go. Luckily, there are some tried and true ways of keeping yourself healthy throughout the year so you can avoid getting an RVBP (Respiratory Virus and Bacteria Panel) infection. Aside from staying away from people you know are sick, you can practically keep germs to a minimum in your household. During years like this one, when the flu is on the rise and it seems like everyone is getting sick, you can reduce your risks by getting vaccinated, washing hands properly and living a healthy lifestyle. New viruses are constantly evolving and appearing which is why even if you have been sick lately, you will want to make sure you continue to prevent other infections. This is especially true if you have small children at home or have elderly family members that could be at risk if they become sick.

Washing Your Hands

It may seem so simple that there’s no way it could be effective but washing your hands frequently throughout the day can actually go a long way towards staying healthy. It is recommended that you wash your hands after using the bathroom, after changing a diaper, after handling raw meat, eggs, fish, etc., after handling dirty laundry or cleaning areas of your home like bathrooms or kitchens. The process is simple but you need to make sure you are doing it right in order to properly kill any germs that could be living on your hands. Warm water, soap, and vigorously scrubbing the fronts and backs of your hands for at least thirty seconds is effective. Make sure to dry your hand on a paper towel that you will dispose of. Reusing a towel or sharing a towel will still promote illness.

Don’t Share Personal Items

You love the people that you live with but there are certain items in a home that should not be shared as they can spread bacteria and viruses from one person to the next in a very short period of time. Make sure to never share things like toothbrushes, make up, utensils, cups and towels. It is a good idea to keep these items in a short rotation period. Wash drinking glasses frequently, get rid of toothbrushes after you have been sick and run a good thorough wash cycle on your dishwasher frequently with all of your commonly used kitchen items.

Cover Your Mouth

If more people would properly cover their mouth when they are at home and out in public, we would greatly reduce the incidence of illness being spread around. Many people cover their mouth using a closed fist or their hand. This actually doesn’t completely prevent the spray of saliva and germs. Your best bet is to cough into the interior of your elbow as this properly covers your mouth.

In addition to all of these great tips that you can utilize to help avoid getting an RVBP infection, you can also speak with a trusted medical professional about vaccinations. You may or may not be up to date on your current vaccinations and each year you have the option for getting a number of shots that can potentially prevent illness such as pneumonia or the flu, or at least keep symptoms to a minimum if you do get sick. Also, be sure to get enough sleep each night so your body is not run down and eating healthy goes a long way towards maintaining a healthy and well-functioning immune system.

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Why Is It Important to Get the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine?

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reports that nearly one out of four people in the United States are infected with the HPV virus (Human Papillomavirus). In many cases, the HPV virus goes unnoticed because the person does not display any types of symptoms. In fact, studies suggest that close to 90 percent of the time, the HPV virus goes away on its own within two years and the person may not even know they had it.

The Dangers of HPV

Unfortunately, one in ten people are not so lucky. In these cases, the HPV virus does not go away on its own, but rather remains in the body of the infected person. This, in turn, can lead to serious health conditions, including genital warts are several types of cancers, including cancer of the cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal, and throat. In fact, nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the HPV virus.

Many people fighting these types of cancers and/or genital warts, did not even know that they had the HPV virus until the cancer was found. With virtually no symptoms, the only way to fight the HPV virus is to take preventative measures.

Benefits of the HPV Vaccine

The good news is that the HPV vaccine can significantly reduce the risk of getting HPV in the first place. There are more than 150 known strains of HPV, and the HPV vaccine is designed to protect against those strains that are known to cause either cancer or genital warts. By reducing the risk of getting the HPV virus, the vaccine also will reduce the risk of getting genital warts or cancer caused by HPV.

Is the HPV Vaccine Safe?

To date, more than 80 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been administered. In most cases, the person does not have any side effect. Some patients, however, experience mild side effects, such as redness, pain, swelling, nausea, and dizziness, for a short period of time after getting the HPV vaccine. In rare cases, some people have experienced an allergic reaction to the HPV vaccine. This is most common among those who also have latex or yeast allergies.

Who Should Get the HPV Vaccine?

The American Cancer Society recommends that all teenagers, both male and female, have the HPV vaccine. Children between the ages of 11 and 12-years old will be required to have only two doses of the HPV virus. Children 13-years old or older, on the other hand, require three separate doses, spaced 6 to 12 months apart.

Women who do not receive the HPV vaccine as a teenager, but are 26-years old or younger, also should have the HPV vaccine. In addition, young man, who did not get the vaccine as a teenager and are under the age of 21-years old should have the vaccine. It also is recommended that members of the LGBT community who did not get the vaccine as a teenager and are 26-years or younger get the HPV vaccine.

It is estimated that more than 4,000 women will die from cervical cancer this year. You don’t have to be one of them. The HPV vaccine is easy to administer with minimal side effects, yet it provides a lifetime of protection against a potentially deadly virus. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get your HPV vaccine today.

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What Are the Different Types of Parainfluenza Viruses?

strep-throat

Each year it is reported when illnesses are on the rise and ‘sick season’ has officially begun. Statistics begin to come out regarding what percentage of the population is getting ill, how many deaths are taking place from related complications and what the severity of symptoms is. What many people don’t realize that there are a number of different strains of illnesses and these strains can vary and mutate from year to year. This is why a new flu shot needs to be made each year; in order to provide protection against the new virus. There are four major different types of viruses that contribute to parainfluenza viruses and each one comes with its own set of symptoms and risks, however, each of the viruses will affect the respiratory system in some form.

Symptoms

Many of the parainfluenza viruses have symptoms that are similar to the common cold and if a person contracts a mild case, it is common to be misdiagnosed. Without treatment, symptoms will go away though they do sometimes take a bit longer than your average cold. Fatigue can persist for a couple of weeks after the initial symptoms have subsided. People who have weakened immune systems or are susceptible to complications from illnesses can develop a number of complications from any of these viruses, including pneumonia which can result in death. Symptoms of any of these parainfluenza viruses can include:

-Fever

-Runny nose

-Sore throat

-Headache

-Cough

-Wheezing

-Shortness of breath

-Fatigue

Different Types

The four main types of HPIV included HPIV-1, HPIV-2. HPIV-3 and HPIV-4. Each of these viruses can affect any person regardless of how healthy they are. Some of these viruses are far more likely to affect children as many adults already have immunities to the virus or are not easily affected. Let’s take a closer look at each of these viruses:

HPIV-1

This virus is what causes the croup in young children. Croup is very similar to a cold and can often be diagnosed as one. The difference is usually the characteristic cough that occurs along with other symptoms and it is caused by inflammation and swelling of the vocal chords. The croup is most common in the fall months of the year and cases of the croup ebb and flow with the change of seasons.

HPIV-2

This virus is very similar to HPIV-1 as it also causes the croup but far less commonly. It also occurs most often in the autumn and the virus can live on a surface for up to ten hours.

HPIV-3

This infection causes infections in the lungs such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Often a secondary infection, it is very contagious during the time that symptoms are present (Usually within days three to ten of being symptomatic).

HPIV-4

There is a lot more information on the other forms of parainfluenza and this form of the virus is very rare. It doesn’t follow any typical seasonal pattern like many other viruses. You are contagious through close contact with an infected person.

If your doctor suspects that you are ill with one of these strains of parainfluenza, you will likely go through a thorough physical examination and be asked to detail what your symptoms are and how long you have been sick. Your doctor may determine that further testing can ensure that you are receiving proper medical care. An x-ray can ensure you don’t have a dangerous buildup of infected fluid in your lungs. CT scans can also give a detailed look at the state of your lungs.

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What is Human Metapneumovirus?

There are always several viruses to worry about during flu season, not the least of which is influenza. However, that’s not the only nasty bug of which you need to be aware. Another virus to watch out for is the human metapneumovirus, or HMPV. This virus is one of several that can cause respiratory infections across a wide range of ages. It’s especially virulent among the very young, the elderly, and populations with weakened immune responses. Since its discovery in 2001, it’s been increasingly recognized as a major cause of infections in both the upper and lower respiratory tracts.

Recognizing the Symptoms of HMPV

As with many viruses that crop up during flu season, HMPV symptoms include coughing, fever, sinus congestion, and difficulty breathing (feeling “short of breath”). These symptoms may become more complex if the virus spawns other illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. HMPV is very similar to most other viruses that cause respiratory problems. You’ll likely begin to notice symptoms a few days to a week following your exposure to the virus, and the illness can be brief or may persist for a week or more.

‘Tis the Season for Sniffles and Coughs

HMPV can start popping up in the early part of winter, but it’s most common during the later winter months, as well as in the early spring. The virus can be transmitted easily from one person to another through sneezes and coughs, casual contact like shaking hands, or through touching an infected object (think door knobs and keyboards) and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. Along with exposure to other common viral infections like influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the winter and spring months can be nearly impossible to navigate without catching something.

Preventing Viral Infections

Viruses are different from bacteria and they don’t respond to antibiotic treatments. This makes prevention extremely important, because there aren’t any effective treatments for HMPV, RSV, or the flu. The only thing that can be done is to try to minimize the symptoms and wait for the virus to run its course. You can protect yourself from most viral infections if you:

  • Perform proper, frequent hand-washing (at least 20 seconds of lathering with soap, then a thorough rinse in warm water).
  • Refrain from sharing food, drinks, and utensils with anyone else.
  • Avoid anyone who is obviously ill, especially those who are coughing or sneezing, or exhibiting other symptoms of illness like paleness, chills, gastric upset, or malaise.
  • Avoid close personal contact like kissing as much as possible.

Regular cleaning of communal surfaces is also an effective way to stop the spread of viruses. Wipe down commonly-touched surfaces like door knobs, countertops, computer peripherals, and similar areas with disinfecting wipes or another appropriate cleaning product.

Being Prepared for Illness

Should you find yourself ill with a respiratory infection, it’s important to have symptom-relief medication on hand; there’s no treatment, but you can minimize most or all of the symptoms with the correct medication. If you visit your doctor, make sure they test for HMPV before accepting antibiotics to help combat the illness. Overuse of antibiotics can be extremely dangerous, both for your personal health and the health of society at large.

Antibiotics won’t help your body fight off a virus, and can actually make you more susceptible to antibiotic-resistant infections in the future. HMPV is relatively new, and some doctors may not yet have it in their sights as a potential cause for your respiratory illness. Being aware of potential health issues like HMPV is an important part of staying healthy (or getting well) during flu season.

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What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus yields its name from its crown-like structure of spikes, first identified in the 1960’s. Most forms of coronavirus yield mild to moderate cold-like symptoms, primarily affecting the upper respiratory system. These mild forms affect most people at some point during their lifetime with no long-term effects.

Forms of Coronavirus

There are also more serious forms of coronavirus which can cause much more severe symptoms. To understand the coronavirus better the CDC explains there are four main subgroups of the virus: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Alpha and beta are the most common, with the following four types being responsible for many colds worldwide:

  1. 229E (alpha coronavirus)
  2. NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
  3. OC43 (beta coronavirus)
  4. HKU1 (beta coronavirus)

There identified coronavirus that can create more severe symptoms have more common names we may know, including:

  1. MERS-CoV (beta coronavirus that causes MERS)
  2. SARS-CoV (beta coronavirus that causes SARS)

While not all coronavirus will mutate and lead to more serious infections like SARS, it is helpful to understand the symptoms and prognosis of each of these viral infections.

Common Coronavirus

The four most common forms of coronavirus lead to symptoms often referred to as the common cold. Mostly affecting the upper respiratory system, these symptoms last for a short period of time and include:

  • runny nose
  • headache
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • fever
  • a general feeling of being unwell

Some infections may also involve the lower respiratory system causing illness like bronchitis or pneumonia. There is no specific treatment, but most people will recover on their own. Symptoms can be eased with fever reducers like acetomenaphin, humidifiers, rest, and consuming extra fluids.

Severe Coronavirus

The terms SARS and MERS can be alarming. SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, represented a global epidemic scare that spread across more than a dozen countries in Europe, North America, and Asia in 2003. While considered a serious threat to public health, there is no current need to worry. The SARS outbreak has been considered contained, and there has not been a reported case anywhere in the world since 2004. Even the CDC web page has been archived.

MERS represents a more recent threat to public health. An acronym describing a Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, MERS has spread to many other countries (including the United States) since discovery in 2012. MERS is marked by acute respiratory symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Different from other types of coronavirus, MERS is also characterized by a high mortality rate — 3 or 4 of every ten cases.

The good news is that all non-middle eastern diagnoses of MERS have been linked to travel from the Arabian Peninsula. There is not currently a high risk associated with this virus domestically or with other foreign travel.

Prevention of Coronavirus

While there is no known vaccine to prevent a coronavirus infection, there are many steps you can take to help prevent yourself from catching colds this year. Coronavirus is typically transmitted through a cough or a sneeze and by close personal contact. Touching an infected object or encountering infected fecal matter and then touching your face can also transmit infection.

Avoid contagion with regular hand washing. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, and always wash your hands before you touch your eyes, nose, and mouth. Avoid contact with people who are sick.

If you think you may have the coronavirus, try to avoid infecting others. Stay home if possible when you are sick. If travel is unavoidable, use tissues or a mask when sneezing or coughing and dispose of soiled material in trashcans. Use sanitizing disinfectants to wipe down surfaces.

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