Sickness is caused by a variety of microscopic organisms. While viruses and bacteria are very different from each other, it’s difficult to see much distinction on the surface. Knowing more about the difference between viruses and bacteria can teach you how to treat different kinds of infections.

How Diseases Spread

Infectious diseases can be spread from person to person in a variety of ways. Most commonly, an infected person will breathe or eject droplets into the air via sneezing or coughing. An uninfected person can breathe this in and the virus or bacteria can spread within their body.

It’s also possible to become infected if droplets land on your face, especially near your eyes or mouth. If droplets land on solid surfaces, someone else can touch these surfaces, collect the droplets on their skin, and ingest them if they touch their mouth. You can prevent the spread of disease by washing your hands frequently, sanitizing solid surfaces, and staying away from people while they are sick.


Bacteria are single-celled organisms that can reproduce on their own. They survive in nearly any environment including the human body. What many people don’t know is not all bacteria are bad. In fact, some even benefit the body. Probiotics, for example, aid in digestion. About 1% of bacteria can cause disease. To determine if you have a bacterial infection, you need to visit your doctor. They will do an evaluation and run tests on your saliva, mucus, urine, etc.


Viruses are much smaller than bacteria and they do not reproduce on their own. They are only made up of a protein coat and some genetic material. They require a host in order to survive. A virus will attack a cell, use it to produce more viruses, and eventually kill the cell. Normal cells can be made malignant or cancerous. Viruses will also attack very specific cells. Unlike bacteria, most viruses will cause disease.

Treating Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections are treated via antibiotics. The antibiotics will block certain functions in the bacteria which weakens them enough for your immune system to fight them off. It’s essential that you take your entire prescription of antibiotics even if you start to feel better. If you don’t finish your antibiotics, it’s possible that not all the pathogenic bacteria are killed.

While antibiotics are the best way to treat bacterial infections, they need to be taken carefully. Due to an overuse of antibiotics, some bacteria have become resistant to them through mutation. Antibiotics should only be used for bacterial infections to prevent further overuse.

Treating Viral Infections

For a viral infection, there is no specific treatment. Efforts are made to address your symptoms while your body fights off the virus. For some viruses, antiviral medication has been developed. The largest way viral infections are dealt with is through vaccines. If people are vaccinated, their body has already been exposed to a small amount of the virus and their immune system has learned how to fight it off. By getting vaccinated, you reduce the risk of becoming infected with a viral disease and spreading it.

Bacterial infections and viral infections can spread in very similar ways and they may even lead to sicknesses with similar symptoms. However, they are very different microorganisms that affect your body in their own unique way. If you determine what kind of infection you have, you gain a better understanding of how to be treated.

Seeking medical help when you’re ill can get you the treatment you need. Click here to contact Premier Family Medical!