Under the Weather

 

By Annette Francine

As I’m suffering with the symptoms of another cold while fighting with my arsenal of synthetic and holistic remedies, I wondered how something so minute as a virus can have such debilitating effects on an organism as large as a human being.

Turning to the Internet (Such a phenomenal resource!!! You folks who didn’t experience life relying on volumes of Encyclopedia and dated, limited information have no idea!), I learned that viruses are parasitic. They don’t become active until they enter a living cell. They do this by attaching themselves to the cell’s receptors and then trick it into recognizing the virus as something the cell needs, such as nutrients. Once invited in, the virus hijacks the cell, instructing it to multiply and produce other viruses like itself. Because viruses implant themselves in our cells, and are not independent cells like bacteria are, they cannot be treated by antibiotics nor targeted in the same way as bacterial cells can be.

Disease (effectively any ‘lack’ of ‘ease’ within the body), occurs when the cells are disrupted, damaged, or killed as a result of the infection. When cells are impaired in this way, the immune system springs into action, producing white blood cells and antibodies, and activating other mechanisms to go to work to rid the body of the foreign invader. Hence: a fever (heat inactivates many viruses), the secretion of a chemical called interferon (which blocks viruses from reproducing), and mucus secretions. (Did you know mucus contains an antisceptic enzyme, among other things?) Many of the symptoms we suffer during an infection—fever, malaise, headache, stuffy and runny nose, and cough—result from the activities of the immune system and not from the infection itself.

I marvel, yet again, over what a wonder our bodies are. How incredibly complicated and fascinating are the systems within it! Now I’ll try to have a little more patience with the speed of my recovery. Fight the good fight, immune system! I’ll continue to muster all the allies I can. In the meantime, take no prisoners!

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