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Viral Fever: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

The normal temperature of the human body varies between 97.7 °F (36.5 °C) and 100.04 °F (37.8 °C). Any increase in this body temperature is usually known as a fever. In simple words, fever is a part of the body’s defense mechanism against certain types of infection. When some kind of bacteria or virus enters the body, the immune system automatically increases the core temperature to fight off the infection. It also helps destroy those viruses or bacteria. Since most bacteria and viruses are sensitive to rapid changes in body temperature, a sudden increase in it makes the body less hospitable to them.

There are two common types of fever: bacterial and viral. Both of these infections have a few similar symptoms. While performing a diagnosis, the doctor usually starts by ruling out a bacterial infection. This can be done by analyzing the symptoms and performing a few lab tests.

Here is a detailed explanation of viral fever, its types, causes, warning signs, prevention techniques, and treatment:

What is a Viral Fever?

Viral infection is a broad term that is commonly used to define a number of illnesses that are caused by some kind of virus and are highly contagious in nature. Often referred to as a febrile viral disease, viral fever is one of the most common health issues that affect people of all ages. A few initial symptoms of viral fever are similar to malaria symptoms. However, it can be distinguished by a high body temperature and a variety of other symptoms. Generally, a viral fever can last anywhere from 2-3 days to as long as two weeks.

Types of Viral Fever

Depending on the body parts that are affected, there are several different types of viral fever. Some of the most common ones include:

Respiratory Viral Fever

This is a kind of viral infection that mainly affects the respiratory tract of an individual. However, it can target either its upper or lower section.

Viral Enteritis 

In this type of viral infection, one’s digestive tract gets heavily impacted. Commonly known as stomach flu, the gastro-intestinal viral fever can lead to some major issues, like gastroenteritis.

Exanthemata Viral Fever

Exanthematous viral infections are known to have several dermatological symptoms as well, along with a high body temperature. A few common symptoms include rashes and skin eruptions, which can last for several days. Although this kind of viral fever is very common in children, it can affect other age groups as well.

Hemorrhagic Viral Fever

Hemorrhagic viral infections are known to induce certain circumstances that can lead to several complications, along with high-grade fever. This mainly affects the blood vessels in the human body, which results in internal bleeding.

Neurologic Viral Fever

This kind of viral infection affects the central nervous system and causes different kinds of neurological illnesses. It happens when the virus enters an individual’s body and then travels to the brain or spinal cord.

Causes

A viral infection can be caused by several different types of viruses, with each having its own route of transmission. Here are a few common viruses that are among the major causes of viral fever:

Influenza Virus

The influenza virus is known to cause influenza, which is often referred to as flu. This is a highly contagious infection that commonly spreads through respiratory droplets.

Rhinovirus

This is another common virus that causes viral infections. A cough and high body temperature are common symptoms of this viral infection.

Dengue Virus

Dengue viral fever is another viral infection that is commonly spread by mosquitoes. This viral infection required immediate medical attention as it could lead to several serious health issues.

Chikungunya Virus

This viral fever is known to be spread by mosquito bites, and the major cause of infection is the Chikungunya virus. Some of the common symptoms include a high fever and joint pain.

Ebola Virus

This is a rare kind of virus that is known to cause hemorrhagic viral fever. Generally, it gets spread when a healthy individual comes into direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.

Zika Virus

Zika virus is usually transmitted by infected Aedes mosquitoes and can cause some serious health issues. This viral infection is known to be associated with several different birth abnormalities and neurological illnesses.

West Nile Virus

Like other common viruses, the West Nile virus is also known to infect people through mosquito bites. Generally, it causes flu-like symptoms, but in severe cases, it can lead to some major neurological problems as well.

Transmission

There are several different ways in which an individual can get infected with a virus. Some of the common methods of transmission include:

Inhalation: When an infected individual sneezes or coughs near a healthy person, the latter is very likely to breathe in those virus-containing droplets. The common cold and flu are usually transmitted this way.

Ingestion: When a completely healthy individual consumes food or drinks that have been contaminated with viruses, he or she can immediately develop that infection.

Mosquito Bites: This is one of the most common methods of virus transmission. There are several types of mosquitoes that are known to carry certain viruses. When these mosquitoes bite a healthy individual, he or she gets an infection.

Bodily fluids: An individual can easily catch a viral infection after coming into contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. These bodily fluids can be anything, such as saliva, nasal secretions, etc.

Signs and Symptoms of Viral Fever

The symptoms of a viral fever can vary from one individual to another, depending on the severity of the infection. However, there are a few common warning signs that one needs to look out for:

  • High fever
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat and cough
  • Severe congestion
  • Swelling of the face and other body parts
  • Dehydration
  • Recurring chills
  • Eye irritation
  • Skin rashes
  • Sudden loss of appetite

Diagnosis

Generally, the diagnosis of viral fever involves a combination of several clinical evaluations and lab tests. A doctor will take factors like the patient's symptoms, medical history, etc. into consideration and then suggest a few tests. Depending on the suspected type of virus, these tests may require blood samples or throat swabs.

Prevention

Although these viruses can infect an individual at any time, viral fever is very common during the monsoons. Due to the presence of stagnant water at several spots, the rainy season is the most favourable time for mosquitoes to breed. By following a few basic personal hygiene practices, it is possible to prevent a viral fever. Some of these are:

  • Washing hands with soap and clean water on a regular basis
  • Avoiding direct contact with infected individuals
  • Covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
  • Getting all the important vaccines for several diseases, including influenza, measles, and mumps
  • Using mosquito repellents
  • Wearing protective clothes that cover arms and legs
  • Eliminating any stagnant water sources

Treatment

The treatment of a viral fever is usually determined by the type of virus and severity of the infection. Unlike a bacterial infection, viral fever cannot be treated by taking antibiotics. The doctor may suggest a few over-the-counter medicines for viral fever that can give instant relief from pain and any kind of discomfort. Other than this, medicines like cough syrups, nasal decongestants, and throat lozenges are also prescribed depending on the symptoms an individual is experiencing.

However, supportive care is known to be the most effective way to treat a viral fever. An individual must take adequate rest and eat a well-balanced, nutrition-rich diet to relieve symptoms and encourage recovery. In addition to that, doctors also suggest that one should consume plenty of water and other fluids, like juice. Hydration not only helps with certain biological functions but also manages the body’s fluid loss caused by fever.

Here are a few other things that one can do to speed up the process of recovery:

  • Taking antiviral medications (only the ones prescribed by the doctor)
  • Take a bath with lukewarm water
  • Eating seasonal fruits

Viral fever is a common type of virus infection that is generally spread through mosquito bites. From minor discomfort to serious illness, a viral infection can affect different individuals in different ways. To avoid any kind of complications, it is critical to look out for warning signs and take preventive measures on time

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