Symptoms Of Viral Infections

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What Is A Viral Infection And Do I Stay Protected?

A viral infection is an infection that is caused by a virus and not by bacteria. Viral infections are the cause of many illnesses such as the common cold, influenza, pneumonia, chickenpox, fever, and many other conditions ranging from mild to more serious. Unlike a bacterial infection, viral infections cannot be treated by using prescription medications. Viruses must simply run their course through a person’s system until the virus dies out and the person is better. Using an antibiotic to treat a virus can prove to be dangerous as it can lead to antibiotic resistance, which means a person’s body will not respond correctly to future doses of an antibiotic.

Although there is no treatment for viral infections, there are preventive measures one can take against certain strains of viruses. Vaccination is a wonderful way to stop and prevent future outbreaks of different viruses such as chicken pox, and measles. There are also yearly vaccinations one can receive to protect themselves from the outbreak of the influenza virus, also known as the flu.

Signs And Symptoms Of A Virus Infection

Viral infections often have many different signs and symptoms. Since viral and bacterial infections have very similar characteristics, it’s important to be evaluated by a doctor in a timely fashion. This way you will avoid having a condition grow and transform into something worse than what it originally started out as.

Some of the symptoms to look for in a viral infection are as follows:

  • The presence of a fever is typically one of the first symptoms a person will experience. Although many people fear the onset of a fever, this is actually a good thing. A fever is the body’s natural way of defending against a virus. The body causes the normal temperature to rise, which makes conditions for a virus unfavorable.
  • Feeling nauseous, vomiting, or experiencing diarrhea. These are symptoms of a viral infection affecting the stomach; however, feeling nauseous and vomiting are also symptoms of the flu.
  • A cough that is accompanied by congestion.
  • Phlegm or mucus that is thick; and is green, yellow, or brown in color.
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen glands
  • Headache and body aches
  • A feeling of stiffness throughout the body

A viral infection can cause a person to experience one or more of these symptoms depending on the type of virus.

When Should A Person Seek Medical Help?

Although it is true that a person cannot receive treatment for a virus though antibiotics, it’s important for a person to seek medical attention for symptoms lasting longer than a week, with no sign of improvement. Viruses have a tendency to progress and grow into different conditions, and a doctor will be able to give you medications to treat the symptoms caused by the virus. They can also perform tests that will tell you exactly what type of virus you have, which will help you know how contagious you are, and how long you need to stay away from others.

How to Avoid Becoming Ill

The best way to protect yourself and the ones you love from contracting a virus is to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often, and be sure to always cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and avoid being around people while they are sick. You can also take daily vitamins, and increase your vitamin C intake during cold and flu seasons.