How Our Bodies Fight Viruses


The winter months often bring increased illness. Fear of illness sends people scrambling for ways to ward off germs. Individuals often carry hand sanitizer, take more vitamins, and avoid crowded places. Viruses require a different medical protocol than bacteria based sickness.  Our body is equipped with a defense system to tackle anything that manages to get through.

Immune Response

Your body is always on alert when it comes to invasive items. Your immune system recognizes the familiar cells of your body, and attacks everything else. A healthy individual produces about one billion defense cells every day. These are made in the bone marrow and consists of various kinds of white blood cells.  The first line of defense are the macrophage cells. These are basically the search and destroy cells that make sure germs are quickly destroyed. A virus, however, requires heavy ammunition. These are the T and B lymphocytes.  Once these are activated, a more complex defense begins.


Blood tests are often performed to look for viruses. These tests do not look for the virus, itself. These tests are aimed at identifying the coordinating antibodies for a certain illness. Antibodies consist of a created by the B cells. This protein locks on to the viral material in an attempt to cease its duplication. They also put a label on the viral cells to alert the rest of the white blood cells to attack them. This line of defense is meant to limit the duration and severity of the virus.

T Cells

The T cells are more of an alert system. They set of an internal alarm system when the body is under attack by a virus. Some T cells are able to destroy affected cells on contact. They also act in coordination with the B cells to increase the manufacture of antibodies. The virus is remembered by T and B cells that remain after your body heals. This memory helps to provide an immunity to some viruses, like the chicken pox. Vaccines introduce dead viruses or low amounts of a live virus. This allows the body to produce antibodies and immunity without suffering from the viral symptoms.


You can acquire the flu more than once due to the many different strains of the virus. These are different each year. Many viruses mutate, meaning they change forms and trick the body into thinking they are a new virus. These mutations are complex as they move from different species to humans. The flu usually originates in birds. Scientists spend months researching the migration habits of infected animals and flu strains each year. This research is used to form a specialized flu vaccine for each year.


Colds do not mutate. These are common because of the many different viruses available. These numbers reach into the hundreds. You become immune to each one separately. This is why you may catch  more than one cold in any given season. These are usually destroyed by your immune system in a short period of time. You become immune to each cold, as it is killed off by your immune system.

Dormant Viruses 

There are a few viruses that are unable to be killed. These stay in your system in a dormant state. The chicken pox virus is said to produce an immunity after infection, however, it is not completely gone. A person who has the chicken pox remains immune from further symptoms in the original form. Viruses like this hide before your white blood cells can kill them off. They remain inactive, often for many years. When your body is undergoing stress your immune system lowers and allows these dormant viruses to resurface. The chicken pox, for example, reappears as a disease called shingles. This is a variation of the virus.

The herpes virus is another virus that sneaks around in the body until you are under stress. This virus causes various types of sores on the skin. This particular virus hides in nerve cells. This is why many people feel discomfort when an outbreak is on the way. The cells that host this virus are called neurons. These cells are not destroyed by the virus, however. The virus travels along the nerve to the skin and causes symptoms on the outer surface of the body. These blisters run a course that is often interrupted by anti-viral medications.

Viruses are unique in the way they initiate symptoms of illness. Your body is equipped to fight them off, however. The mutation abilities of the flue make it more prevalent than some other viruses. Your cells are hard at work to identify and destroy invaders. Many viruses are mild and easily recovered from. Common colds and stomach viruses are often very short lived. Immunity is immediate after they are destroyed. Help your immune system by resting, exercising and eating well. Those with dormant viruses can decrease their odds of an outbreak by doing the same. The immune system is our first defense against illness.


reset password

Back to
log in