Differences between a Bacterial Fever and a Viral Fever

Bacteria and viruses are the commonest organisms to cause diseases among humans. While doctors can treat bacterial infections with sensitive antibiotics, the viruses do not respond to such antibiotics. Although there are anti-viral medications available, those are not as potent as an antibiotic in curing a disease. Thus, it is a challenge to treat viral infections. However, given the fact that most viral infections are self-limiting and does not give rise to complications among healthy individuals, containment of such disease have been possible through various means.

Although the bacterial and viral infections are common and have been studied at length, it is difficult to clinically assess the two infections and tell the difference. One reason for this is that both types of infections can give rise to similar symptoms including a fever. At the same time, in most bacterial and viral infections, the symptoms manifestation and progression would not be having much of a difference. However, there are instances where the two types of infections may differ in its onset, progression, response to treatment and resolution. Thus, in such instances, it may be possible for the clinicians to predict whether the ongoing infection is a bacterial infection or a viral infection.

Among the commonest types of bacterial infections, respiratory infections, urinary tract infections and gastro-intestinal infections can be highlighted. With regard to infections of viral origin, common cold and respiratory infections are the commonest. However, there are many other illnesses, which may have either a viral or a bacterial origin. For instance, infections such as meningitis, pneumonia and gastro-intestinal problems may be caused by a bacteria or else by a virus.

When it comes to disease progression, viral infections are usually self-limiting as it is the body immune system, which would fight against the viral infection until the end. In most instances, outside treatment can only provide the body with enough support to sustain the immune activity and prevent further complications. However, in bacterial infections, unless the patient is treated with antibiotics, it is likely that the infection would remain and lead to complications. Thus, it is correct to assume that if a fever does not resolve within few days, it may be a fever caused by a bacteria rather than a virus.

In instances where there is a fever associated with a skin rash, it is prudent to assume that the underlying cause is viral in origin than bacterial. At the same time, a burning sensation in the urine, which indicates a possible urinary tract infection giving rise to fever, would indicate a bacterial origin to the fever rather than a viral origin. When it comes to gastro-intestinal issues, a blood stained or frothy stool may indicate a probable bacterial origin to the disease or to the fever.

At the same time, the prevalence of certain symptoms during a particular period and the pattern of spread would also indicate to the clinicians the possible origin of the disease. However, in order to be sure, clinicians would perform a blood test and see the changes in blood counts before deciding whether the infection or the fever is actually caused by bacteria or by a virus. In some instances, the blood tests would be inconclusive and in such instances, the doctors have to rely on their instincts, experience and the symptom analysis in order to determine the need to give antibiotics to the patient. In addition, there are instances where doctors would try a course of antibiotics and observe how the patient responds to the treatment, when there is a doubt regarding the origin of the disease or the fever.