What causes sore throats, runny noses, fevers and all that nasty stuff?
Poor Katarina finds herself with a cold in sick bay and she explains all about the two main ways we as humans can become sick. Learn about viruses, bacteria, your immune system and white blood cells. And please forgive Katarina if she’s a bit sleepy at times… she is “under the weather” after all.
There Are Two Different Ways We Get Sick
- Disease and the body breaking down
Are invasions of your body from germs such as viruses or bacteria, which are so small you can only see them with a microscope.
Your Body Is Like a Castle
It has walls (like your skin) and defenses to protect itself from bad things like germs. Sometimes, though, germs get through your body’s defenses and into your body and you become infected.
This can happen, for example, when you pick up germs from a sick person, like from a doorknob that a sick person touched. Then if you eat without washing your hands and germs that are now on your hand gets put on food that goes in your mouth. This is why it’s SO important to wash your hands before you eat!
Once inside of your body, viruses work by taking over your cells and using your cells to create more viruses. They turn your cells into virus-making factories and can produce millions more of the virus.
Works a bit differently than viruses but they also reproduce themselves and grow in numbers inside of your body. When they continue to grow in number, your body may experience problems.
But don’t worry! Even inside your body, there are defenses such as your immune system which fights off germs and intruders. White blood cells are a big part of your immune system and they fight and destroy germs. When your body is battling infections you may feel sore or tired because your body’s energy is focused on the fight.
Your blood vessels may grow larger to allow more blood cells to flow to the infected area. This can lead to swelling and soreness. You may even get a fever, which is when your body temperature heats up to kill germs that can’t stand the heat. These things aren’t fun to feel but it means your body is healing itself.
#2 Body Breaks Down
The other way we can get sick is when we don’t take care of our bodies and our body breaks down in some way. Heart disease and cancer are two examples of sickness that aren’t caused by germs and infections.
Our bodies Are Like Cars
If we don’t take care of our car and give it oil and gas, it can break down. Our bodies can break down too if we don’t take care of them by eating healthy foods or getting enough sleep and exercise. In this case, when we get sick, it’s not because of germs, but because our body is breaking down, just like a car that hasn’t been serviced and maintained well.
We can get sick through #1 infections caused by germs like viruses and bacteria or #2 when our body breaks down.
Why Do People Get Sick?
Jim Demetriades and Nikos Iatropoulos
Luke Gschwend and Joseph Rohrs
Written and edited by
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