Know Your Opponent
There are two main kinds of infections that cause the flu. These are characterized as viral and bacterial. While the virus and the bacterium are considered living beings, it was the virus which actually caused scientists to change their definition of life.
All organisms, other than the virus, reproduce using fully intact cells that mystically double their own content and then split into two identical cells; or mystically mix the genetic material of two non-identical cells ( male and female ) into one cell, which then begins doubling its content.
Viruses are quite different, because they do not reproduce they replicate . What this means is that they inject their genetic material through the cell membrane of a host cell – a bacterium, a plant, an animal, or a human being. This material navigates through the host cell and finds the main genetic replication factory inside the host cell. The replication area is supposed to be used only for the repair and maintenance and reproduction of the host cell itself.
The virus hacks its way into this system, and inserts its own programs, which call for the replication factory to start making innumerable small pieces of the virus. These small pieces then make the journey back out of the cell to the cell membrane, and begin to put themselves together until new, complete viruses are created. These go through a short period of time, where they run internal programs to make sure everything is networked and functional (scientists call this maturation of the virus). Once they get the all systems OK , they are then free to attach to another cell membrane, inject their programming, and continue to make thousands of new viruses. Until the immune system objects, they live happy, replicating lives.
Bacteria also gain access to the host cells, but instead of gaining access to the host cells replication factories, they attach to the cell membrane and create a channel through which they can usurp the cell s nutritional reserves to replicate themselves. They basically feed off the body, competing for nutrients, and excreting waste products into the body. These waste products are often quite toxic to the host. In the case of the flu caused by bacteria, it is commonly these toxins which produce the nasty symptoms we associate with the flu .
Knowing how a virus or bacterium penetrates the cell membrane and begins using the host cell s equipment and supplies to replicate itself gives us an opportunity for determining a strategy to prevent this from happening.
Our bodies have incredibly evolved defense mechanisms and strategies which are constantly being used to prevent and limit infections from overtaking our systems. Look for more information on this topic; it will be posted in a future section called: Know Your Self.