Virus v. Bacteria - Which is Worse?

Which will do the most damage?

Sanaz Majd, MD
1-minute read

Virus infections are very common, and most of them are pretty wimpy. They cause cough, runny nose, and maybe a short case of the runs -- not exactly a fun frolic, but not deadly. The virus infections that cause respiratory symptoms like stuffy nose and cough cause the body to put out a lot of mucous.

Unfortunately, this mucous is like an all-you-can-eat buffet for some bacteria. If mucous builds up in the sinuses, bacteria can creep in, take up shop in there, and cause the infection called sinusitis. In the same way, mucous in the ears can lead to bacterial ear infections, and lung mucous can turn into pneumonia. These bacteria are much worse guests than the viruses, causing pain, fever, and even more serious complications.

It's important to remember that some bacteria and viruses aren’t bad. They wipe their feet and make sure they follow the local customs. Some bacteria even benefit us, and we become sick when they are not present.

Sick Woman image courtesy of Shutterstock


Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

About the Author

Sanaz Majd, MD

Dr. Sanaz Majd is a board-certified Family Medicine physician who graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. Her special interests are women's health and patient education.