One of the most common viral diseases is the cold, experienced quite often by people around the world. Other common diseases that include symptoms of the common cold are influenza and mononucleosis, also known as the “kissing disease." Other viruses that infect children and adults alike cause chicken pox, measles, and mumps.
Three viruses are largely responsible for the common cold: adenoviruses, coronaviruses, and rhinoviruses. Usually, a person contracts the virus when he inhales contaminated air, touches his eyes or mouth with contaminated hands, or uses an object previously used by a person with a cold. Symptoms such as coughing, congested nose, headaches and general weakness may be experienced for several days, then go away. Unfortunately, a cold virus cannot be ultimately cured, but can be treated by drinking water, sleeping, and taking vitamins. It is interesting to know that a person catches a cold caused by a specific virus strain only once; after that, the body becomes immune to the virus, but other virus strains can cause other bouts of colds.
Viral diseases such as the “flu” and “mono” tend to be very similar to the cold, but these two diseases exhibit more severe symptoms. Aside from the coughing and headaches, muscle weakness, fever, and chills may also be experienced and can help physicians distinguish the diseases from just a cold. The flu has an especially infamous reputation for having epidemics that can kill millions, as seen in the 1918 flu outbreak experienced by one third of the world’s population. Mono is less severe, but can still produce complications if not treated properly.
Chickenpox, mumps, and measles are also some of the most common viral diseases known as “childhood diseases.” Viruses responsible for these diseases are the Varicella-Zoster virus, paramyxovirus, and picornavirus, respectively. These viral diseases are extremely contagious, especially during the first few days when the symptoms are initially felt. Chickenpox and measles have similar symptoms of blisters or spots all over the skin, but mumps is often experienced by having swollen salivary glands, making it very painful to swallow and even touch the neck area. The good thing about catching these diseases during childhood is that the body develops immunity against the viruses, but they can be very life-threatening for a pregnant mother and her unborn baby.
Many viral diseases don't yet have cures, although some, such as the flu, measles, and chickenpox, can be prevented through vaccines. A common symptom among all these diseases is fever, as the body tries to kill the virus by elevating its temperature. Patients should be reminded that taking antibiotics is useless, as antibiotics kill bacteria, but not viruses.