A viral infection is any disease that is caused by a virus and lasts for a short period of time, it rarely exceeds 10 days and its main symptoms include:
- Diarrhea, fever and vomiting;
- Numbness and lack of appetite;
- Muscle pain and pain in the belly;
- Headache or behind the eyes;
- Sneezing, runny nose and cough.
Viruses are more common in infants and children, but can also occur in adults. The symptoms may vary, because the infection can be caused by several types of viruses. Usually they infect the respiratory tract or intestine, so it is common for colds and gastroenteritis to be called viral infection.
Although they are also caused by viruses, diseases such as measles, Dengue or Zika, for example, can be more serious and worrying and therefore are not usually called viral infections.
If a child is infected by a virus it is normal for parents and siblings to also be contaminated because it is contagious. Usually symptoms in adults are lighter and last less time. These symptoms can take up to 5 days to appear, after the child has the first symptoms due to the incubation period of most viruses.
For this reason, even if you take the necessary steps to avoid transmission, the virus may already be inside the body, and the most important thing is always to follow tips to prevent viruses, such as washing your hands often.
Why are viral infections more common in children
Symptoms caused by viruses are more common in infants and children because they do not yet have all the resistance that adults possess and their immune system is still developing.
Therefore, each time the child comes in contact with a different microorganism, until his or her body can produce the antibodies against the invader it will exhibit the symptoms of the virus. However, it is difficult for the child or adult to develop symptoms when coming into contact with the same virus, but since there are many different viruses when they come in contact with another virus, they may have symptoms, although they can be weaker.
How to diagnose a viral infection
A doctor may diagnose a viral infection through the symptoms you present, baring in mind you don't have any other signs that can indicate other diseases. They may also reach a diagnosis if another member of the family, person at school or workplace has the same symptoms, for example.
Sometimes there are several children in the same day care that may have symptoms of a virus and so if you know that your child's colleagues are infected, there is a possibility that your child is also infected by the same virus. Therefore, it is important to tell the doctor the symptoms they have and if there are any cases of people with the same symptoms.
To make sure it is viral the doctor may ask for specific tests, such as blood and urine tests, for example.
Why do doctors not always ask for tests
It is not always necessary to do specific testing because most of the time it is difficult to find out what the virus is and the more common tests like a blood test, x-ray and urine test, for example do not present changes, which doesn't help in diagnosing the problem. Sometimes the doctor may be having doubts about the symptoms presented and to rule out certain diseases he can ask for a specific blood test if he suspects rubella, for example.
How to cure a viral infection fast
The main treatment for viral infection consists of symptom relief because there are no specific remedies for these viruses. It is recommended you drink plenty of water, rest and follow a good diet, as well as resting and avoiding activities that consume a lot of energy.
The doctor, may also prescribe painkillers such as Dipyrone or Paracetamol to relieve pain symptoms, while you recover.
While treating a virus, it is important to consume light and easily digestible foods, preferring fruits, vegetables, and lean cooked meats. It is also recommended to avoid foods that are too spicy, fatty, gaseous and difficult to digest.
To avoid dehydration, you should drink at least the same amount of water lost through vomiting and diarrhea. Water can be replaced with homemade saline solution being more effective against dehydration because it contains minerals that are lost in vomiting and diarrhea. Check out more tips in how to cure a viral infection fast.
When to go to back to the doctor
It is important to go back to your doctor if you show signs and symptoms of dehydration, such as deep eyes, very dry and dehydrated skin, diarrhea worsens or has blood or if your cough worsens or you present shortness of breath.
You should go to an emergency room if other symptoms appear such as spots on the skin, fever that does not give in with Paracetamol and fainting occurs.
How to avoid a virus
One of the best measures to avoid getting a virus, and that should be implemented every day, is frequent hand washing. When done correctly, this is a simple technique that prevents the accumulation of virus in the skin and under the nails, which can end up reaching easily to the body, either by mouth or respiratory tract, for example.