Achoo! What if we told you that sneezing is good for your health? In reality, you should not feel embarrassed if a loud sneeze occurs in the middle of an important meeting. Sneezing forces the viruses out of your body and helps the immune system to protect you. But why is it necessary? What can viruses do to your organism if we let them overpower us?
What Make Viruses Special?
Let’s start talking about the nature of viruses from the very basics. The name ‘virus’ derived from the Latin word meaning ‘poison’ – it is the first sign that doesn’t promise anything good about viruses. They are harmful indeed, both to humans and animals, plants, and microorganisms, as viruses need any host cell to grow and multiply. Once they make their way into a living organism, viruses can cause various diseases: measles, rubella, chickenpox, herpes, hepatitis, etc. Even though several of these sicknesses already have been managed as a result of available vaccinations, many of them were fatal for a long time as microscopic technologies were less powerful and, at that time, did not allow thorough investigations of viruses. Technological development gave virology specialists a chance for a closer look at viruses, which were already known to be smaller than bacteria. There are five types of viruses known based on their structure: helical, icosahedral, prolate, enveloped, and complex viruses.
How Viruses Appeared on Earth?
We now know that viruses can be found wherever life is; however, microbiologists disagree when it comes to a single theory about the nature of viruses and how they appeared on Earth. There are three main hypotheses which attempt to explain this topic:
- regressive (reduction) hypothesis states that viruses once were small cells that lived by attaching themselves to larger cells; thus, parasitising. Evolution did its part, and unnecessary viruses’ traits were lost, making each virus completely dependent on hosting cell;
- cellular origin hypothesis states contrasting opposite – some viruses formed and evolved after DNA/RNA bits escaped from genetic code of larger and more complicated organisms;
- co-evolution hypothesis denies both of the previous theories and highlights the priority of viruses. The hypothesis states that viruses evolved from more complex molecules at the same time as composite cells appeared on Earth. Therefore, both viruses and cells live together from the beginning.
How Viruses Replicate and Spread?
Despite structural differences and contrasting theories about their nature, viruses spread the same way by invading living cells. Usually, cells increase their numbers by dividing in two; however, this does not apply to viruses. The virus starts its replication cycle by first approaching the cell and attaching itself to its membrane – this process may sound simple, but viruses are quite clever as they do not approach cells in which they would not be able to replicate. Later, the virus penetrates the membrane by traumatising it, enters the host cell, and starts releasing viral genomic nucleic acid. After this, the actual replication starts, and the genome begins to multiplicate – at this stage viral proteins may modify and differ from the original virus. Lastly, the host cell gets killed by viruses bursting the cell membrane, releasing themselves, and repeating the process over again.
Virus replication explains the process of virus multiplication inside one organism, but how viral disease manages to ‘jump’ from one person to another? There are several ways of explaining the spread of viruses:
- certain viruses, for example, flu, can be transmitted to new victims by irresponsible coughing and sneezing;
- for example, HIV is transmitted during unprotected sexual intercourse, or once infected blood enters another human’s organism;
- some viruses ‘travel’ with the help of blood-sucking insects – malaria, yellow and dengue fever, etc;
- viruses can also spread by the faecal-oral route, which usually incorporates passing food or drink from dirty hands to mouth, for example, roto virus, typhoid, cholera, etc.
How Dangerous Viruses are?
Throughout history, humanity faced many outbreaks of numerous viruses, and some of them changed the lives of millions, if not more. Each virus had different effects, most being very dangerous. Let’s take the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa – the virus jumped from animals to humans and reached a mortality rate of almost 90% of those infected. Spanish flu, which occurred at the end of the First World War, affected slightly less than half of the world’s population and killed around 50 million. However, not only the number of infected and dead people affects the level of virus’ danger – the invention of a vaccine in many cases is the only way to stop the spread of the virus and minimise the risks. As for rabies, the modern vaccine allows specialists to treat the infected person and save his/her life as a failure to receive the vaccine in time means imminent death.
New Threat – COVID-19
As for now, the world is suffering from never seen before crisis called Coronavirus disease or COVID-19 for short. The society first was introduced to Coronavirus at the end of last year when cases in Wuhan, People’s Republic of China, began to grow relentlessly. However, local lockdown failed to control the scale of the virus, and it quickly spread around the world. World Health Organization (WHO) reports that Coronavirus has already affected more than 41 million people worldwide, of which 1.1 million cases resulted in the death of a patient. The most common symptoms of this virus are fever, dry cough, and fatigue, whereas symptoms such as loss of taste or smell and muscle or joint pain effects are less common. Even though virologists all around the world claim that society needs to learn to live with COVID-19, only vaccines can prevent the increasing and consistent spread of the virus. Sadly, there is no approved vaccine yet, so billions of people have to rely on other precaution methods, such as wearing masks, practising social distancing, avoiding crowds, cleaning hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue.
How to Avoid Catching the Virus?
Besides already mentioned and successfully working self-protection techniques, we must not rule out the importance of the immune system in the fight against viruses. The immune system is our organism’s defence against all kinds of invisible threats; thus, strengthening the immunity should be everyone’s top priority. One of the most common ways to intensify one’s immune system is by consuming immunity-strengthening foods through a daily diet: lemons and other citruses are a source of vitamin C, which increases the immune system’s effectiveness and has antiviral abilities, fish such as salmon or trout are considered best sources of vitamin D, which helps maintain the balanced immune system. Various additives and store-bought supplements also contribute to the protection and health of our body; however, natural products are way safer to consume. We advise choosing CBD products , which not only may reduce levels of anxiety, relieve depression but also improve the immune system. Versatile CBD oil drops are gaining their popularity in the fields of strengthening the organism and ensure overall well-being. Different CBD products may have exceptional strengths and abilities depending on the exact formula, but organic materials used in the production process and responsible practises unites them all.
Viruses, the same as bacteria, are dangerous and almost impossible to eliminate permanently. Societies throughout the world must commit to changing everyday habits, which gets practised for a greater good – safety and health of billions. As the journey to safe and long life begins with us and our immune systems, every piece of effort counts.