Healthy Blood

Bacteria, fungus, parasites, viruses – what is the difference?

What can a doctor do for your “infection”?  It depends on what is causing the infection.  Let’s back up a step.  What is an infection?  Technically it is the growth or presence in large quantities of a pathogen in your body. What is a pathogen?  A pathogen is something that causes a problem, or an infection, or something that hurts, in a living organism.  Humans are living organisms, so a pathogen in humans generally refers to a microorganism that is in a body that should not be in the body in large quantities and the presence of this microorganism harms and causes pain in the body.  That being said, bacteria are both good and bad, and they are necessary for the human body to function.  For example, Strep is in everybody’s mouth, yet physicians can diagnose a sore throat as “strep throat”.  Why?  It is because the body’s normal flora (bacterial growth) are overrun by Strep and at that point it is considered an infection.  Another example is  Escherichia coli.  E. coli is in every human intestine. There are several strains of E. coli, and only a few cause illness. These strains are not normally in the human gut.  The human intestine is loaded with bacteria, hopefully all good for us.  But things can get out of balance and the result is illness of the body. What we eat plays an important role in the balance of microbes in our body.  Google has all kinds of answers to food and dietary regulation of the body – both human and animals.  Nutrients are carried in the blood to all areas of the body.  Now we are getting back to healthy blood, the key to health.  If you think you can live on alcohol and white bread, well, surprise, you will not have healthy blood.  They are consequences to human behavior – all kinds of consequences – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual.  

Bacteria are single cell free-living organisms without a nucleus.  They reproduce by fission or by forming spores.  Antibiotics kill bacteria and can get rid of your infection. 

Fungus (plural fungi) is a taxonomic kingdom containing molds, mushrooms, and yeasts.  They often grow hyphae, or long threadlike microscopic extensions.  Anti-fungal medications are used to treat fungal infections. 

Viruses are submicroscopic infectious organisms that replicate only inside the living cells of another organism.  They consist of a segment of nucleic acid (either DNA or RNA) surrounded by a protein coat.  Viruses are more difficult to kill than bacteria and fungi.  Often a patient must deal with the symptoms until the illness runs its course. Our body will build up antibodies to kill the virus and also give us protection against further infections of the same virus.  

Parasites are organisms that get their nutrients from another organism called the “host”.  There are some naturopathic organizations that claim that everbody has parasites inside their bodies.   This is false information.  After working in a clinical laboratory all of my life, and after studying parasitology and seeing multiple patient samples in a large hospital in the south, I can tell you that only those who have contracted a parasite from another person or an animal actually have parasites in their body.  Unlike bacteria, parasites do not normally inhabit the human body.  Many years ago a friend was told this falsehood, that she had parasites in her body (with no symptoms of any parasitic infection).  She became paranoid and brought me a specimen in a jar that came from her intestines, and she asked me to identify it.  I took it to the lab and looked at it under the microscope.  It was a piece from a capsule she had ingested.  Again, we are not walking hosts for parasites unless we picked up the parasite from an agent, like another human or animal.  You get parasites from the microscopic eggs or larvae from someone else.  You usually cannot see the eggs or larvae, but if you know another person, or animal, has a parasite, there is always the possibility that you will catch it

How do you avoid getting an infection of any sort?  Wash your hands thoroughly.  It is almost an insult when someone tells you to wash your hands, but I cannot tell you how many people (mostly men – sorry guys) don’t wash their hands after using the restroom, even a public restroom.  That is really gross.  The next avenue of protection is not to go near sick people and allow them to spew their lung droplets on your face.  Masks really don’t do any good because germs pass right through the fabric, but I guess if someone is spitting on you at least you won’t get wet.  

Medical Technologists receive swabs and other specimens that the nurse or doctor collects from a patient.  We touch the swab to petri dishes and immerse them into sterile nutrient media, and we also touch them to a glass slide.  We stain the smear that has dried on the slide and view the organisms under the microscope.  Most bacteria cannot be identified just by looking at them, but we can see the shape and configuration of the bacteria which gives us an idea of what it might be.  Parasites can sometimes be identified on a glass slide, but it is often difficult to get a specimen that contains the parasite or its eggs.  The bacteria must grow on the petri dish and then we can test them for chemical reactions and identify them.  Modern technology has sped up the process and we can often identify the pathogens in a short amount of time.  Even viruses that cannot be seen under the microscope can be identified in an hour or two by using polymerase chain reactions through amplification.  

Blood is sterile.  It never contains pathogens unless the patient is very ill.  Blood cultures are done by drawing some blood into special containers.  If any “not doctor” (ie live blood analyst) tells you that you have a pathogen in your blood, he is very wrong.  When a person gets a pathogen in his/her blood he/she is very ill and can die quickly.  So if you are walking around feeling okay and someone pricks your finger and puts a drop of blood on a slide and looks at it on a cheap microscope and tells you there are bacteria (or any pathogens) in your blood, he doesn’t know what he is talking about.  I have read cases of the “live blood” analysis “not doctors” seeing platelets (normal cell in your blood) in a blood drop and thinking they were bacteria!

Keep your blood healthy by eating smart, taking some supplements, exercising, and resting.  Stress is also very bad and can cause unhealthy blood.  If you can’t control it, don’t stress about it!

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