Yes we are coming upon that season. The season of colds, flu, coughing, sneezing and holding up in confined areas, it is THAT time of year. Take it upon yourself to know the difference between a bacterial infection and a viral infection. If you know the difference, prevention and treatment are that much easier.
How can you tell the difference between a bacterial infection and a viral infection? Truly the only way to be sure is to look at a sample under a microscope. Other than that, we look at how long the symptoms last without improvement. If the symptoms remain the same for more than 10 days, it is most likely a bacteria infection or maybe a secondary bacterial infection (virus causes the first infection and bad bacteria take over from there). A virus is self-limiting. It cannot sustain
itself for longer than 3-10 days, whereas a bacterial infection can and do last a good deal longer. Another symptom of a virus is a low-grade fever. If you have a fever above 98.6o F (37 o C) but below 100.4 o F (38 o C), you have a low grade fever. If you have a high-grade fever, it is more likely that you have a bacterial infection. Your immune system tends to react to a virus with a low-grade fever. Also, headaches tend to accompany a viral infection rather than a bacterial infection. A cough and runny nose tend to accompany a viral infection and the color of phlegm that you cough up will be clear if it is viral and other colors if it is bacterial. One last thing to note is that bacterial infections are localized, where symptoms tend to affect one area while viral infections are systemic and affect everything. Because this is the case, if you feel achy all over, you are more likely to have a viral infection. If your lymph nodes are swollen or you have an abscess, it is more likely that you have a bacterial infection. Please be aware that the infection you are battling with may be secondary – meaning you first had a virus and when your immune system was compromised, bad bacteria moved in and took over.