Although many people get common viral infections, such as the common cold, it is good to be aware about different types of viral fever infections as it may help you get timely medical attention. Treatments for viral fever infections usually involve managing and controlling the symptoms, but if your viral fever isn’t going away or improving, your doctor will need to diagnose the type of infection to treat you. Avoiding treatment can lead to severe complications including the death of patients. Thus, finding out which type of viral infection a patient has can save their lives.
Here, you can find some details about different types of viral fever infections, basic information about viral fevers, and more.
Viral fever: overview
Viral fever results from an infection caused by a virus. These usually affect the respiratory and the digestive system, but they can also affect other parts of your body, such as your brain. Many viral infections may be mistaken for bacterial infections due to similarity in their symptoms, including cold, cough, fever, and rashes. You can consult a doctor to find out which type of infection you have. Your body handles the viral infection on its own in most cases; taking some rest, eating a healthy and easy-to-digest meals, and taking over-the-counter medication to manage the symptoms are usually enough.
Some of the common symptoms of viral infections include the following:
- Cold and cough
- Headaches and body aches
- Fatigue and lethargy
Almost all viral fever infections are contagious and can spread from person to person. There are certain tests that can be used to diagnose viral infections; these tests involve testing the samples of blood, saliva, sputum or mucus, urine, stool, and skin of the affected person. You can consult a doctor to find out which type of viral infection you have.
Types of viral fever
Although you need a doctor to diagnose your condition, learning about different types of viral fever infections can help you avoid any severe complications. Listed below are some of the common viral fever types:
- Respiratory viral fever
This type of viral infection is caused by viruses that affect the nose, throat, airways, and lungs. People who are affected by the respiratory viral fever can experience symptoms like cold, cough, sore throat, fever, and body aches. Some respiratory viral fever examples are given here:
- Common cold
- Influenza or the flu
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
- Human metapneumovirus (hMPV)
- Respiratory viral fever usually lasts for about a week; if you see no improvement in your symptoms after a week, you should consult a doctor.
- Gastrointestinal viral fever
Some types of viruses that cause fever can affect your gastrointestinal (GI) tract—stomach and intestines. The common symptoms of this type of viral fever include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. This type of viral fever infection usually takes less than 2 weeks to subside. People who eat/drink contaminated food/drinks or touch their mouth after touching a contaminated surface can contract this condition. Infected people should take extra precaution to wash their hands after going to the toilet to avoid further contamination and spread of the virus. Examples of gastrointestinal viral fever include the following:
- Gastroenteritis or the stomach flu
- Liver disease caused by hepatitis viruses
- Exanthematous viral fever
This type of viral fever infection causes rashes on your skin that can appear as blisters or bumps or spots of blood under the skin. Other symptoms of exanthematous viral fever may include fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, body aches, and headaches. These types of viral infections are extremely contagious and usually require the patient to be isolated form other family members. Some examples of exanthematous viral fever infections are listed below:
- Rubella or German measles
- Fifth disease
- Haemorrhagic viral fever
Also known as viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF), this type of viral infection can damage the blood vessels and cause internal bleeding throughout the body or bleeding eyes, ears, and/or mouth. The symptoms of VHFs vary based on the type of the disease, but some common symptoms include body aches, extreme fatigue, headaches, rashes, and dizziness. It may escalate to a life-threatening condition if left unchecked. Some cases of VHF can be mild, but this viral infection can be quite severe. Haemorrhagic viral fever examples include the following:
- Ebola virus disease (EVD)
- Lassa fever
- Yellow fever
- Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome
- Marburg haemorrhagic fever
- VHF viruses usually exist in a geographical proximity in which the host lives. Many of these viral infections are spread by rodents.
- Neurological viral fever
There are certain viruses that affect the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord). The symptoms of such viral infections include seizures, trouble coordinating, fever, and drowsiness. Some examples of neurological viral fever are as follows:
This type of viral infection can be life-threatening and cause irreversible brain damage, affecting the everyday life of the patient if they get well. You should consult your doctor immediately if you think you may have a neurological infection.
Things you should know about viral fevers
Different types of viral fever infections are transmitted from one infected person to the other. There are other factors that play a role, but it is important to isolate the affected person or maintain a safe distance from them to avoid getting the virus.
Young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with compromised immune system are a high risk of getting the disease or having severe complications.
By practising good hygiene habits, such as washing your hands before eating and sneezing or coughing in your elbows or handkerchiefs, you can lower your chances of getting the viral infection.
It may take anywhere form 1 day to up to 21 days for the symptoms to surface after the initial exposure to a virus. Thus, people, who have a high chance of getting a viral fever, should practice preventive measures to control the spread of the virus.
You should avoid travelling to viral fever hot spots to avoid getting the infection; people living in such areas should practice preventive measures and take extra precaution to limit the spread of the viral infection.
Your eyes, nose, and mouth are the common gateways of viruses and other germs; as a good practice, you should avoid touching these areas whether you are sick or not.
Administer timely vaccinations for available viral infections to reduce your chances of getting the disease.
Pregnant women who have a viral fever infection can pass on the infection to their foetus. This may cause various health issues for the baby. Rubella, Zika virus, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) are some of the viruses that cause congenital (from birth) infections.
When to see the doctor?
You should consult your healthcare provider if you notice any of the following to avoid any health complications:
- Symptoms that remain the same or are getting worse after a week or 10 days
- Severe symptoms that may become life-threatening
- Exposure to viruses such as rabies, HIV, chickenpox, and hepatitis B form co-workers, family, friends, or other sources
The following symptoms indicate the need of immediate medical attention:’
- Fever higher than 103°F
- Difficulty breathing
- Coughing up blood
- Diminished cognitive abilities
- Chest pain
- Severe abdominal pain
Complications of viral fever infections
People who have been affected with viral fever may develop any of the following complications:
Pneumonia or inflammation in the lungs
Many respiratory viral fevers can cause swelling in the lungs, thus making the breathing process difficult.
Haemorrhagic viral fevers can cause life-threatening bleeding internally or from the mouth, eyes, and/or ears.
Some viruses can lay dormant in your body for a long time after you have healed completely. They can reactivate later and cause the symptoms again then.
Some viruses (also known as oncoviruses), such as HPV, HIV, and HHV-8, can lead to cancer if they stay in your body for long periods of time.
Types of Viral fever FAQs:
How many types of viral fever are there?
Depending on the organ of the body they affect, viral fever is broadly categorised into the following five types:
Respiratory viral fever that affects the respiratory system—the nose, throat, airways, and lungs
2. Haemorrhagic viral fever that affects the vascular system or the blood vessels
3. Exanthematous viral fever that causes skin rashes
4. Neurological viral fever that affects the central nervous system—the brain and the spine
5. Gastrointestinal viral fever that affects the GI tract
Which is the most serious type of viral fever?
Neurological viral fever and haemorrhagic viral fever usually tend to be quite severe and may become life-threatening if left unchecked. However, certain viral fevers are accompanied by complications beyond the primary disease including coma, secondary bacterial infections, kidney and liver failure, hallucinations, and multiple organ failure.
What type of viral fever is hard to treat?
Neurological viral fever, haemorrhagic viral fever, and gastrointestinal viral fever are some types of viral infections that are most difficult to treat as they may require intensive medical attention. This is especially true for neurological viral fever infections such as encephalitis.
What is the least serious type of viral fever?
Respiratory viral fevers such as the common cold and influenza are quite common and can be treated easily. Please note that the body fights most viral infections on its own, and the treatment for respiratory viral fevers usually focuses on reducing the symptoms.