13 May Wellspring Chiropractic North Lakes | Understanding Viruses
Let’s talk about immunity.
By definition, a virus is an infective agent consisting of nucleic acid, the same materials our bodies use to create DNA, coated in protein. Science continues to develop a deeper understanding of viruses and where they sit in the tree of life.
With the world battling a pandemic due to a virus it is important that we use our knowledge and understanding of viruses to help protect ourselves. As chiropractors and health professionals it is our responsibility to educate and inform the general public on health and wellbeing. Below are some interesting facts to help us understand viruses.
Viruses are neither alive nor inanimate.
Viruses are not technically a living thing; they are a form of organic matter that does not have metabolism, energy, and cannot grow, reproduce or evolve without a host. We can almost think of a virus like a parasite that cannot survive (for long) without a viable host. In the case of viruses a single cell is considered a viable host.
Viruses are 100x smaller than a bacterium.
It’s important to understand the size scale here. Viruses cannot be seen under a typical light microscope which makes it very difficult for our immune systems to identify a virus to try to destroy it. Our bodies also struggle to identify them because a virus uses our own bodies’ cells as hosts, which camouflages them against our white blood cells (the bodies’ immunity security guards).
Viruses hijack our cells to reproduce.
A virus reproduces by attaching itself to and injecting its “DNA” (nucleic acid or genetic material) into our own cells’ DNA. Our cells replicate, producing more infected cells. The virus uses the cells proteins and “organs” to create multiple copies of itself, all while inside the host cell membrane. Eventually the host cell dies, and all the virus copies get released into the body where they can now infect more cells, and the cycle starts again.
Viruses can survive for hours on surfaces.
A virus cannot survive forever outside a host, but they can remain infectious on surfaces for some time. Many factors decide exactly how long a virus can survive without a host, but hard surfaces like metal and plastic are easier for a virus to survive on. Therefore, it’s so important to disinfect and wash surfaces regularly to avoid the spread.
Viruses may not be big, but they pack a punch. They are excellent at avoiding detection from our immune systems and will constantly evolve into different strains, which is why many viruses have no cure and we produce new vaccines routinely. While viruses are dangerous, remember that our immune systems have tricks up their sleeves as well, and can fight off viruses on their own (think of the flu).
Our body cannot keep up with some virus evolution however and these are the life-threatening viral infections (think of HIV). If we do become infected by a virus, we must control the symptoms and keep our bodies nourished to fight off the infection. This is why it is important to stay hydrated, get plenty or rest, exercise and eat a healthy diet. Remember to disinfect surfaces and wash your hands often to help control the spread.
For more information or to book an appointment with one of our chiropractors call 3482 2637 or click here to book an appointment online.