Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by camel from AL. camel Wonders, “How do bacteria breathe?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, camel!
Imagine you’ve just woken up. Right away, you know something is wrong. Your throat is sore. Your head hurts. The minute you move, you start to cough. Just standing up causes your stomach to rumble. Simple movements take effort, and you feel very warm.
It doesn’t take you long to figure out what’s wrong: you’re sick. Instead of heading to school, you’ll be going back to bed. But first, you need to check with your parents. This set of symptoms could mean you’re headed to see the doctor, too.
The doctor may give you medicine to help you get better. Sometimes, though, the doctor might say there isn’t any medicine to treat your illness. In those cases, you just need to rest and drink plenty of fluids. You may also use over-the-counter medications to help ease some of your symptoms.
Why are there prescription medicines to treat some illnesses but not others? Often, it has to do with the causes of your illnesses. You may already know that germs are usually to blame for making you sick. However, the treatment depends on which type of germs you’re dealing with.
Most germs fall into four main groups: bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. The most common germs that cause us to be sick are bacteria and viruses. Although they’re both germs, they’re very different creatures that are battled in different ways.
Bacteria are tiny organisms made of just one cell. They take nutrients from their environment, which is sometimes inside the human body. Bacteria can cause many types of infections that make us sick.
Have you ever had a bacterial infection? If you’ve experienced tonsillitis, strep throat, cavities, or ear infections, then the answer is yes! In these cases, doctors may prescribe an antibiotic. This medicine can help your body fight off the germs that caused the infection.
Not all bacteria are bad for us, though. Some bacteria are helpful and necessary for us to stay healthy. For example, there are good bacteria that live in our intestines. They help keep our bodies in balance by aiding in digestion. They help us make better use of the nutrients in our food and turn what’s left over into waste.
Bacteria can grow outside the human body. Viruses, on the other hand, need to be inside living cells to grow and reproduce. Viruses are even smaller than bacteria. If they’re not inside a human being, plant, or animal, they won’t survive for long.
When viruses get inside of a living thing (called a host), they invade and take over cells. They use these cells to reproduce and spread throughout the host. Viruses can cause a variety of illnesses, including chickenpox, measles, and the flu. Even COVID-19 is caused by a virus. Unlike bacteria, there are no helpful viruses for your body.
If you have an illness caused by a virus, you often have to let the illness run its course. Antibiotics rarely work against viruses like they do against bacteria. The body’s own natural defenses will usually overcome viruses if given enough time. It’s important to take care of your body while it’s fighting a virus. Drink lots of fluids, get plenty of rest, and treat whatever symptoms you can with over-the-counter medicines.
It’s no fun to be sick. A visit to the doctor’s office may or may not result in a prescription for medicine that will kill the germs causing your illness. Of course, a doctor’s job is never easy. Some illnesses, like pneumonia, meningitis, and diarrhea, can be caused by both bacteria and viruses! In these cases, it can be difficult to find the right diagnosis.
Standards: NGSS.LS1.A, NGSS.LS1.B, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2