What are the Symptoms of a Viral Infection?

K.C. Bruning

The symptoms of a viral infection have a primarily systematic effect as opposed to the more specific, localized symptoms of a bacterial infection. A typical infection will usually affect many areas of the body and include a mix of symptoms such as a cough, body aches, runny nose, and sinus congestion. It is less common, though possible, for a viral infection to affect one location, such as with herpes or viral conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye.

Chicken pox is a viral skin infection.
Chicken pox is a viral skin infection.

As a virus can inhabit most parts of the body, the symptoms of a viral infection depend on where the infection has developed. Some other general symptoms include throat, ear or abdominal pain. A patient may also experience vomiting, diarrhea, or a rash. Other possible symptoms of a viral infection include a rash, stiff neck, fatigue, or body aches.

Regularly washing hands can also be effective against the development of infection.
Regularly washing hands can also be effective against the development of infection.

There are several different symptoms of a viral infection in infants. The child may be unusually sleepy, have trouble eating, or cry more frequently than usual. In some cases the soft spot on an infant’s head can bulge.

Though most viral infections disappear after they have run their course through the body, they are more likely to be chronic or constantly reoccur than bacterial infections. Some common chronic viral infections include herpes, measles, infectious mononucleosis, and hepatitis. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is another well-known viral infection.

A viral infection can be caused by any kind of virus present in the body. This kind of infection not only cannot be treated by antibiotics, but should not be because they can actually increase the severity of the infection. The symptoms of a viral infection can be treated with medication, hydration, rest, and a healthy diet, but the only cure is for the body’s immune system to fight the illness naturally. Some viral infections may be treated with antiviral drugs, but even these will only lessen the severity of the infection rather than providing a cure.

The most effective way to fight viral infections is to prevent their occurrence. It is important to avoid individuals who have a virus, as the condition can often be contagious. Covering coughs or sneezes and regularly washing hands can also be effective against the development of infection. The chance of contracting a sexually-transmitted virus can be reduced by always using a condom when engaged in sexual activity. There are also vaccines that can help to prevent viral infections such as mumps, measles, chicken pox, influenza, and human papillomavirus (HPV).

Children can experience a range of symptoms from a viral infection.
Children can experience a range of symptoms from a viral infection.

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