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Viruses

Related Terms

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Background

  • A viral infection occurs when tiny disease-causing particles, called a virus, enter the body and begin multiplying. More than 400 different viruses are known to cause infections in humans.
  • Once a virus enters the body, it uses the host's cells to reproduce. In some cases, the infected cell is destroyed during this process. Once the virus multiplies, new viral particles are released into the body that can infect more cells. As the virus takes control over certain cells, the person starts to become sick. Symptoms vary depending on the specific type and number of cells that become infected.
  • Some viruses, such as the human papilloma virus (HPV), do not kill the cells they infect. Instead, some viruses may just change the host cell's functions. For instance, some cells may begin to multiply and divide abnormally, which may lead to cancerous growths. Other viruses may insert their genetic material (DNA) into a human cell where it remains dormant (latent) for a period of time. When the cell is disturbed, it may stimulate the virus to start multiplying, which causes an illness.
  • Most viruses infect specific types of cells in the body. For instance, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) primarily attacks immune cells called CD4 cells. Because the CD4 cells fight against disease and infection, the virus weakens the patient's immune system.
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Viral Life Cycle

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Common Types of Viral Infections

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Causes

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Signs and Symptoms

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Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Integrative Therapies

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Prevention

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.