It is very difficult to distinguish a bacterial infection from a viral one. Their symptoms are so similar that in most cases, doctors cannot make an accurate diagnosis without laboratory tests.
Learn all about your blood
Often, in an effort to gain time, doctors prescribe antibiotic therapy – as a result, this measure is unnecessary, and the patient has serious side effects. Among them: allergic reactions, loss of strength, decreased immunity, bowel disorders and even obesity.
A sharp rise in body temperature is a common companion of acute diseases. It helps to suspect an infection, but does not tell if it is viral or bacterial. A reliable way to correctly answer this question is a clinical blood test.
When the body temperature is elevated, there is malaise, weakness, cough, runny nose, and the main question on the agenda is “what drug should I drink?”
Help your doctor
A clinical blood test is the most important assistant in the diagnosis of viral and bacterial infections, which, together with other indicators, will help the doctor prescribe the correct treatment.
When diagnosing bacterial and viral infections, it is important to know the total white blood cell count. They protect the body from viruses and bacteria, and depending on the type of infection, their amount in the blood serum differs.
So, with a viral infection, leukocytes are mainly reduced or remain normal – it all depends on the nature of the virus and the individual characteristics of the organism. Along with this, the number of lymphocytes and monocytes increases, the number of neutrophils falls below normal, and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate is normal or slightly increased.
With a bacterial infection, the picture is different: the number of leukocytes and neutrophils increases significantly, the erythrocyte sedimentation rate is higher. In this case, the number of lymphocytes is below normal.
Despite the obvious dependence on the type of infection, a clinical blood test alone is not enough to make a correct diagnosis.
Another important indicator is C-reactive protein. This is one of the markers of bacterial infection – it lets you know about the presence of inflammation in the body for a long time.
A study by the American scientist Jitin Thomas showed that in 85% of cases, C-reactive protein is elevated in patients with a bacterial infection, and not with a viral one.
This protein has a peculiarity – its high values can be recorded at least 12 hours after the onset of the disease, and it reaches its maximum values in the interval from 48 to 72 hours.
Another indicator that will help distinguish a bacterial from a viral infection is procalcitonin. If procalcitonin is elevated within 4-6 hours after the onset of the first symptoms of the disease, you can be sure that you have a bacterial infection, because in 95% of cases, viruses are not able to increase procalcitonin.
Often a non-specific indicator appears in the recommendations – the erythrocyte sedimentation rate. As a rule, the erythrocyte sedimentation rate increases in the late stages of the acute period of the disease, and sometimes even during the patient’s recovery, therefore, it is not entirely correct to focus only on the erythrocyte sedimentation rate.