Viruses

The right kind of urgent care can do a lot for many types of viral illnesses, but it’s important to understand how these conditions work.

What is a virus?Can doctors kill a virus?

A virus is an organism that can only exist in cells belonging to other forms of life. The most important thing to understand about them is that they are not the same as bacteria, which are a type of single-cell organism. Instead, they essentially take over a cell and use it to manufacture new viruses, which then infect other cells. Not so fun fact: scientists believe that viruses are the most plentiful type of biological agent on the planet.

Can doctors kill a virus?

We can treat the symptoms of viruses in a great many ways, and there’s a lot to we can do to prevent them and help the body fight them more effectively. However, we can’t actually kill them. In fact, whether viruses even qualify as a form of life has actually been a subject for scientific research and debate.

It’s important to understand that using an antibiotic for a virus is not only ineffective, it contributes to the creation of antibiotic resistant bacteria, which presents a potential danger to the public.  Right now, the only really effective means of killing viruses is our own natural immune system. Fortunately, that is enough in most cases.

What about antiviral drugs like Tamiflu?

While these antiviral drugs don’t actually kill viruses, they do limit their ability to spread in the body.   One of the best reasons to seek urgent care immediately after you come down with flu is to get the shot quickly. In many cases, it can help you recover a day or two sooner. If can also sometimes be given to a spouse or other close family member to prevent its spread.

Which illnesses are caused by viruses?

Probably because viruses are so good at replicating themselves, they are the source of many of the most common illnesses. Aside from colds and flu, they are also behind such chronic illnesses as herpes and HIV as well as hepatitis, chickenpox, measles, whooping cough, mumps, rubella, and even cervical cancer, among many others.

How can viruses be prevented?

  • Vaccines, which expose us to dead viruses that stimulate our natural immune responses, have saved countless lives.  It’s important to make sure that all children are properly vaccinated and that you are as well. That includes receiving a yearly flu shot – and that includes young, healthy people. Under many circumstances the flu is potentially deadly, and no one really wants to be sidelined by a nasty illness for as long as a few weeks. Almost everyone should get a flu shot every year.
  • Good hygiene, such as regular handwashing, is extremely important. Depending on the nature of the virus, we should also generally avoid close contact with people who have flu and other highly infectious illnesses. With sexually transmitted viruses such as herpes and AIDS, it’s obviously important to avoid unprotected sexual contact with an infected individual.

What’s the best way to handle viral illnesses?

It depends on the illness. 

  • For colds, the best treatment is typically as much rest as possible to help your body fight the virus, and consuming plenty of fluids to help with the symptoms. Standard over-the-counter cold medications, such as Robitussin DM for coughs, can also be useful. If symptoms are unusually bad or persist over a long time period, it makes sense to see an urgent care physician. A doctor can help manage the symptoms and see you have something other than a cold.
  • For influenza, if you are anxious to shorten to duration and/or want to stop the flu from spreading to family members with the help of an antiviral drug, then consider contacting an urgent care provider like House Call Doctor Los Angeles as soon as possible. Otherwise, the treatment is essentially the same as for a cold, though the symptoms tend to be more severe and longer lasting. Please try to stay at home and avoid spreading your illness to others.
  • For more serious and/or chronic viral diseases from chicken pox and measles to mumps and herpes, it’s best to see a physician as soon as possible to prevent complications and keep symptoms under control.

Need an Urgent Care House Call Doctor?

If you think you have a viral illness or another health issue that would benefit from the attention of a board certified doctor, Dr. Michael Farzam and his team at House Call Doctor Los Angeles can come to just about any location in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Whether it’s a hotel, a film set, an office, or just your house, we’re ready to help. To get started, use the phone number above or reach out to us through our contact page.