Difference Between Viral and Bacterial Infections


Kristin Vinueza, from UT Health Austin’s Primary Care Clinic discusses the difference between viral and bacterial infections

It is important that you pay attention to symptoms you may be experiencing when you are sick. Visiting your primary care provider can also be helpful in figuring out what kind of infection you have and whether or not you may need antibiotics as a form of treatment. Antibiotics are not appropriate for viral infections as they do not respond to antibiotics and can cause unwanted side-effects and can lead to resistance if used unnecessarily.

For many viral infections, vaccines act as a vital preventative measure you can take to protect yourself as well as your family and community. Stay up-to-date on yearly vaccines such as the flu shot and make sure you have received vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella. You can also receive boosters as an adult if needed. To avoid getting sick, it’s recommended you wash your hands, avoid contact with others who may be ill and if you do get sick, rest, drink plenty of fluids and see your primary care provider!

Video Transcript:

I’m Kristin Vinueza, I’m the nurse practitioner and the Primary Care Unit here at UT Health Austin. So it actually can be a little bit tricky to tell the difference between bacteria and virus infection. Some are pretty obvious. Like a cold sore, that’s a virus. Or bacterial- a lot of times you have white spots in your throat, if it’s strep throat or it’s in the household, you can certainly tell that, although that can be a little bit tricky too. So it is important that you pay attention to symptoms and honestly just coming in and talking to a provider to help you kind of figure out if you’re having a bacterial or viral infection can be very helpful.