Viruses are intracellular parasites, meaning that they grow within living cells and live off of the cells. Viruses are a natural part of our ecosystem and we have adapted to use them in a beneficial manner within our body.
However, viruses can also be a major disease causing agent when we encounter them in very high amounts or if our immune system is compromised. Typically it is a combination of both of these factors that allows viruses to become a problem within our body.
Viruses can cause disease by compromising our immune system and altering the genetic material within the cells they have hijacked. Viruses can also be a major trigger for inflammation and are responsible for a number of diseases such as HIV, cold sores, the flu, measles, chickenpox, shingles and more. They are also known to be a significant contributing factor in the development of certain types of cancer.
Testing For Viruses:
A viral test is performed to find out how the body’s immune system is reacting to various viruses. There are several types of tests to look for viruses. These include:
Antibody Testing: Antibodies are made by the body’s immune system to fight specific viral infections. The antibodies work by attaching to a the cell infected by the virus and destroying the cell with the virus inside.
If the antibodies to the specific virus are elevated in the blood than it is a sign the person had an infection. IgM testing would be more recent infection and IgG would indicate an infection in the past.
Antigen Testing: Viral antigens (VA) are tags that are given to the surface of cells infected by viruses. These tags allow for easier detection by the body’s immune system. A viral antigen test is done on a sample of tissue that may be infected.
Antibodies that would attach to the specific antigen being tested are applied with specific markers (dye or a tracer) so they can be seen. The tagged antibodies can be seen with a special light. If the attached antibodies are seen attached to the tissue than it is a sign that tissue is infected by the virus being tested for.
When I Use This Test:
I use this test when the individual has symptoms associated with a viral infection such as chronic pain or fatigue. On more preliminary labs, I should see an elevation of lymphocytes above 40% on the complete blood count (CBC).
A history of chronic pain or fatigue and increased lymphocytes on the CBC would be positive indicators that this test is warranted to analyze what virus may be impacting the individual’s health and if there was a positive than we would begin an anti-viral protocol.
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