Viral Infections – Do They Cause Inflammation?

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What Are Viral Infections?

We all get sick from time to time. But what is it that makes us sick? There are two types of common infections, bacterial and viral.

A viral infection is a rapid reproduction of a harmful virus inside our bodies.

Viruses infect a person by forcing their genetic materials into our cells and creating more virus particles.

In an active infection, a virus replicates itself and kills the cell to release newly-formed particles.

Sometimes the virus will slowly kill the cell. In either case, the new virus then infects other cells.

Cell damage, tissue destruction and an attacked immune system are why we suddenly develop the symptoms of a viral infection.

Some viruses lay dormant in your cells and are not triggered until a later date. These viruses are ones like; chicken pox or cold-sores.

The Difference Between Viral And Bacteria

Both bacteria and viruses are too small to be seen without a microscope but they are very different.

Bacteria are complicated single-cells. They have a rigid wall and a thin, membrane which surrounds the fluid inside.

They are able reproduce on their own and can survive in different environments. Ranging from extreme heat, extreme cold, and the human body.

Most bacteria are harmless. Our body needs some bacteria, ones that help by digesting food or destroying diseased microbes.

They can help to fight cancer cells, and provide nutrients. Only 1% of bacteria cause disease in humans.

Viruses are smaller than the tiniest bacteria. They have a protein coat with a core of genetic material containing RNA or DNA. Viruses cannot survive without a body.

They reproduce by attaching themselves to cells and then they program the cells to make new viruses causing the original cells to die.

However, in some cases, viruses turn cells into malignant or cancerous cells.

Most viruses do cause disease and only attack specific cells such as the liver or blood.



Can reproduce on their own Reproduce by attaching to cells
Can survive without a body Cannot survive without a body
Rarely causes disease Often causes disease

Do viral infections cause inflammation

Viral Infections

Chicken Pox

Chicken pox causes spots, blisters and scabs. It is a common infection, mostly infecting children.

Chicken pox can be dangerous for people with a weakened immune system, pregnant women and new-born babies.

Although, anti-inflammatories can be used for many conditions, anti-inflammatories for chicken pox can make a person very unwell.

Chicken pox is highly contagious and its best to stay clear of the public until the last blister has scabbed over.

Influenza (Flu)

Influenza (flu) causes high temperatures, tiredness, headaches and general aches or pains.

Symptoms can also include sneezing and coughing, similar to the common cold.

Influenza is very infectious and easily spread to other people. People with influenza are most likely to spread infection with the first five days of the condition.

Mumps, Measles and Rubella

These are serious infectious conditions that can have severe or even fatal consequences including meningitis and encephalitis (swelling on the brain).

Inflammation on the brain is a serious and life-threatening condition and requires urgent medical attention.

Many people never fully recover from encephalitis and are left with permanent problems from the brain being damaged.


Shingles is a condition that causes a painful rash. The early symptoms are headaches, high temperatures and a general feeling of being unwell.

Viral Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is a common condition causing diarrhoea and vomiting. It causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines.

It is highly contagious and people with gastroenteritis (norovirus, rotavirus) are asked to stay away from areas with large quantities of people especially hospitals.

Viral Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Symptoms include but are not limited to; jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin) abdominal pain, dark urine and a general feeling of being unwell.

Viral Meningitis

Viral meningitis is an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Some of the symptoms include; stiffness in the neck, headaches, fever and in some cases a rash.

Most people recover from viral meningitis but can suffer neurological problems in their life.

There is nothing to prevent meningitis, most people are exposed to it but it never develops.

Viral Pneumonia

Pneumonia is the inflammation of the air sacs in your lungs. They inflame and then fill with fluid.

It can be noticed by a dry cough producing thick yellow, brown or blood-stained mucus.

Pneumonia causes your breathing to become rapid and shallow, rapid heartbeat and chest pain.

Feelings of confusion and disorientation can be symptoms of pneumonia, particularly in elderly people. Pneumonia, if not caught, can be fatal.

What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation is an immune-system response that helps to repair the body. The first stage or inflammation is called irritation, which then becomes inflamed.

Inflammation can be caused from viruses, bacteria or fungi or can be caused from traumas and various injuries.

Inflammation often causes pain or tenderness. This is because when something becomes inflamed it pushes against sensitive nerve endings.

Some inflammations can be treated with anti-inflammatory medication.

Do Viral Infections Cause Inflammation?

Viral infections can cause many complications. Some of them do cause inflammations but some do not.

Many viral infections only cause inflammation if they are serious conditions.

Infections such as Meningitis which causes inflammation in the brain and spiral cord can be a very serious condition and may cost your life.

However, infections such as influenza can be less serious and do not usually cause inflammations.

Inflammations are caused by the body’s attempt to protect itself. Inflammation fights against damaged cells or pathogens.

Interestingly, inflammations are not caused by infections alone. Although, this is a common connection. It is part of the body’s immune system response.

Without this response, infections or damaged tissues would not be able to heal.

Essentially, viral infections can cause inflammation but it is not the only cause.

Inflammation is an immune response to damaged cells and can be triggered by a variety of different things such as bacteria and fungi.