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The environment is usually filled with many pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, and more. When you are young, your immune system is not that strong, and your body has not yet developed enough antibodies, which increases your chances of getting a viral fever infection. As you grow older, your body knows how to fight viruses and the recovery is usually quick. However, viral fever can happen to people of all ages.
Viral fever symptoms can take anywhere from 16 hours to up to 21 days to surface, depending on the type of virus strain and the person. The symptoms usually subside on their own, but sometimes you may need to consult the doctors for your condition. Learning about viral fever symptoms helps to manage the disease better.
What is viral fever? How is it caused?
Viral fever is caused by viral infections; it is your body’s natural response to kill the virus and eventually flush it out of the system. Once the virus enters your body it can take a while (about 16-48 hours) to develop into a full-fledged viral infection. There are thousands of viruses that can infect your body, or a part of it such as the lungs or the intestines. Viral fever is an umbrella term for every fever caused by a viral infection. Dengue, malaria, and COVID-19 are some examples of viral fever infections.
If your immune system is weak, the virus may hit at first, which is the case for children, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals. If you have a strong immune system, your body may proactively deal with the invaders and not let it become a full-blown viral fever infection. This is one of the reasons why viral fever symptoms in adults are usually not as intense as those in children or the elderly.
Usually, you catch a viral fever from another person when you encounter their bodily fluids. A viral fever can also be caused by mosquito or tick bites, or by inhaling rat faeces or urine.
The following factors increase your chances of getting a viral fever:
- Being in proximity of an infected person
- Living in or travelling to a viral hot spot
- Woking with an infected person
- Having unprotected sex
- Sharing needles for intravenous drugs
- Having a rat infestation in your home or place of work
- Slaughtering or being near infected animals
Types of viral fever
Viral fever is classified into the following types based on the organs affected:
- Respiratory viral fever, which affects the respiratory tract; examples include flu, the common cold, laryngitis, rhinovirus, and polio.
- Viral enteritis, which affects the digestive tract; examples include rotavirus infection, and adenovirus infection.
- Exanthematous viral fever, affects the skin in addition to causing fever; examples include measles, rubella, and chickenpox.
- Haemorrhagic viral fever, which can become life-threatening; examples include Ebola, yellow fever, and dengue.
- Meningitis, HIV, rabies, and encephalitis are examples of neurologic viral fevers that affect the central nervous system.
Signs and symptoms of viral fever
Viral fever is characterised by a high fever that comes and goes intermittently, headaches, body aches, weakness, burning in the eyes, and nausea. All of these are normal viral fever symptoms, including the following:
- Sore throat
- Painful tonsils
- Nasal or chest congestion
- Runny nose
- Skin rashes
It is possible that you may not get or notice any viral fever symptoms for up to 21 days after the initial exposure to the virus. Early viral fever symptoms usually include headaches, body aches, a cold, and a cough. If you notice any new viral fever symptoms after a week, it is better to consult a doctor.
Treatment of viral fever,
Although your body can heal itself from a viral fever infection, supportive care can help reduce other symptoms. This is why doctors recommend medication to reduce symptoms like aches, nausea, and fever. Many over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are available to ease the symptoms of a viral fever. If you have been diagnosed with a specific viral infection, your doctor may also recommend suitable antiviral drugs to treat you. Additionally, resting also helps in fast recovery.
If your doctor suspects you have a bacterial infection as well, they may prescribe you antibiotics.. It is critical that you carefully follow the doctor’s prescription and finish the antibiotic course; otherwise, you risk developing antibiotic resistance and the bacterial infection returning.
Complications of a viral fever
Viral fever symptoms subside within 7–10 days as you heal, but some people may develop the following complications with their viral fever:
- Respiratory fever
- Sepsis (blood infection)
- Kidney or liver failure
- Delirium and/or hallucinations
- Multi-organ failure
Some people may also become comatose or start bleeding from their skin, mouth, eyes, ears, or internal organs. These conditions can be life-threatening or cause permanent damage to your organs, and they require immediate medical attention. You should consult your doctor if the symptoms reoccur or if new symptoms surface after the initial viral fever symptoms subside.
People who tend to self-medicate are at increased risk of developing complications if they take antibiotics for viral fever. Since antibiotics target bacteria and cannot treat your viral fever or viral flu symptoms, they might end up doing more harm than good. Antibiotics can affect the lining of your stomach, cause acidity, kill the good gut bacteria affecting your gut microbiome, and damage your liver and kidneys.
However, after diagnosing you, observing your symptoms, and running some tests, your doctor may recommend antibiotics to treat another health problem that is separate from your viral fever.
When to see a doctor?
If you notice that your viral fever symptoms are not subsiding after 10 days, you should visit the doctor. In general, a high fever shouldn’t be ignored, but a fever of 103°C or above requires immediate medical attention. The following indicators can also help you decide when to visit the doctor:
- Severe headaches
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Frequent vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- A rash
- Diminished cognitive function, such as confusion
Symptoms of Viral fever FAQs:
How long do viral fever symptoms last?
Generally, viral fever symptoms last for about a week or 10 days. However, the recovery procedure varies from person to person. People who have a strong immune system may recover more quickly from viral infections than people who are immunocompromised, elderly, or young children.
How do I know if I have a viral fever?
High fever, headaches, body aches, a cold, and a cough are some of the most common viral fever symptoms. Thousands of viruses can cause viral fever, so you can’t be sure which type of viral infection you have until you get blood tests done, and even so there are enough tests for every kind of virus. There are certain tests for more serious viral infections, such as dengue, malaria, and chikungunya, that can help with the diagnosis if you don’t feel better after a week or seem to be getting worse.
What are the symptoms of viral fever in kids?
The following are some of the symptoms of viral fever in children:
• Runny or blocked nose
• Watery eyes
• Sore throat
• Sneezing and/or coughing
• Diminished appetite
Consult your paediatrician immediately if you notice any of the following:
• Fever of 101°C or higher in an infant younger than 3 months
• Fever of 103°C or higher in a child older than 3 months
• Persistent vomiting
• Refusing to eat
What are the symptoms of monsoon viral fever?
The symptoms of viral fever are the same in the monsoon as they are in any other season. However, you are more likely to get a viral infection in the monsoon season because the humid weather provides a good environment for viruses and bacteria.
How do I know if my fever is viral or bacterial?
You may not be able to tell what caused the fever, as the symptoms of both diseases are similar. However, your doctor may be able to tell the difference by conducting a physical exam and ordering some blood or urine tests to confirm the diagnosis.