Viral infection – Types, Causes, Symptoms and more

Viral infection

What is viral infection?

Viruses are single-celled organisms with genetic codes, such as DNA or RNA, enclosed in a protein cloak. A viral infection typically occurs when viruses start to grow within the body. The symptoms of the viral infection are mostly caused by tissue damage.

Types of viral infections

Viral infections are categorised into four types based on the differences and the severity of the infection.

Respiratory viral infections

Respiratory virus infections primarily attack the lungs, nose and airways of the body. They are spread through virus droplets. Respiratory virus infections are infectious and often attack the upper and lower respiratory tracts. To prevent respiratory viral illness, you should avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes. Some of the common treatments for upper respiratory infections include rest, water and over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications.

Rhinovirus

The most prevalent cause of the common cold is Rhinovirus. This virus essentially targets the upper respiratory system and also infects the lower respiratory tract. Sinusitis, chronic bronchitis, Otitis media and exacerbations of reactive airway disease are all possible complications of the infection.

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Rhinovirus infections can occur at any time of year and they are very common in the time of spring and fall. Rhinovirus has symptoms like coughing, headaches, sneezing and sore throat.

Seasonal influenza

Seasonal influenza is an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses. Types A, B, C and D are the four types of seasonal influenza viruses. The most common seasonal influenza symptoms are influenza A and B viruses.

Respiratory syncytial virus 

A respiratory syncytial virus is a common respiratory virus that causes mild and cold symptoms. It is shortly referred to as RSV. Most people who are diagnosed with RSV recover within a span of one or three weeks. RSV can be serious for infants and older adults. RSV easily enters the body through the eyes, nose or mouth and it spreads through the air.

Causes of viral infections

Smallpox

Smallpox is one of the types of acute infectious disease that is caused by the variola virus, a member of the orthopoxvirus family. It was one of the deadliest illnesses known to humankind, which took away millions of lives before it was exterminated.

Cold

The common cold is one of the viral illnesses that affects the nose and throat, particularly in the upper respiratory tract. A cold usually goes away after one or two weeks.

Chickenpox

Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease that is caused by a virus called the varicella-zoster. It initially starts with a rash and causes itchiness and irritation in the skin after the development.

Measles

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory illness. It causes flu-like symptoms as well as a rash all over the body. A virus named Rubeola is the reason for the cause of measles.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis refers to liver inflammation. The liver is an important organ that helps the body digest nutrients, fight infections and filter blood. Hepatitis occurs due to alcohol consumption, medical disorders and certain drugs.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that is spread from person to person through the skin. HPV comes in over 100 different varieties, with more than 40 of them being transmitted through sexual contact. This virus affects your genitals, mouth and throat.

Influenza

The flu or Influenza is a respiratory tract infection that targets and attacks the nose, lungs and throat. It is caused by a virus that can potentially transfer from one person to another person. It can be seen mostly during the cooler months of the year.

Symptoms of viral infections

High Fever

A high fever, also known as a high temperature, hyperthermia, or pyrexia is an indication that your body is attempting to protect you against illnesses. The normal body temperature of every human fall between 97- and 99-degrees Fahrenheit. High fever is defined as a temperature of 100.4 or greater.

Tiredness or Fatigue

Fatigue refers to a general feeling of exhaustion or lack of energy. It’s not the same as feeling sleepy or lazy.

Headache

Headaches are common for every individual, especially people with stress. It causes pain and a lack of attention to an individual. In most cases, tension and stress are the most important reason for the cause of headaches.

Diarrhoea 

Diarrhoea is caused by a virus that leads to unremitting bowel movements. Some of the common symptoms of diarrhoea include irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.

Sore throat 

A sore throat causes difficulty swallowing the food. A sore throat can also be itchy and dry

Abdominal Pain

Abdominal Pain is where the pain originating from the inside of the abdomen or the outer muscular wall that needs swift medical attention and treatment.

Coughing

When something irritates your airways or throat, your body responds with a cough. Coughing on occasion is healthy and normal.

Running nose

A runny nose is caused by mucus expelling out of the nose. It can be caused by flu, cold, colder temperatures and allergies.

Skin rash 

Infections, allergies, heat and drugs are some of the causes of skin rashes. Rashes on the skin can be ugly as well as inconvenient to the affected person.

Nausea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting indicate the presence of illnesses like stomach flu, overeating, food poisoning, blocked bowel, illness, concussion and migraines. If you have been vomiting for more than 48 hours, you should get the medical help of a doctor.

Muscle ache

Muscle aches and pains are very common and they can affect multiple muscles. Ligaments, tendons and fascia can all be affected by muscle pain. The soft tissues that connect muscles, bones and organs are called fascias.

Chills

Your body uses chills as a catalyst to raise its core temperature. Chills are caused by cold weather, infections, fever and other disorders. Chills are a common symptom of an illness. In most cases, rapid muscular contractions generate chills.

Stiffness in neck

A neck muscle strain or soft tissue sprain is the most prevalent cause of a stiff neck. A stiff neck is painful and inconvenient for the majority of people and it is caused due to reasons like incorrect sleep, poor posture and slouching over long periods of time.

Seizures

A seizure is an instant and unexpected electrical disruption occurring in the brain. It can alter your mood, emotions, and feelings, as well as your degree of consciousness.

Loss of sensation

Numbness can be caused by things other than an illness. Some of the prominent examples of loss of sensation include scar tissue and tight clothing.

Impaired bladder

Impaired bladder emptying is often an underdiagnosed problem. If left unnoticed or untreated, your bladder may lose its power and ability to function efficiently.

Impaired bowel function

The loss of normal intestinal function is referred to as impaired bowel function. This problem arises due to nerve diseases and infections. The bowel is responsible for excreting solid waste from the body.

Paralysis of limbs

Monoplegia is a kind of paralysis that affects only one limb on one side of the body, such as the leg or arm. When any vital component of the nervous system is damaged, the nerve abruptly signals to the muscles in the affected area of the limb.

Sleepiness

Sleepiness is nothing but the uncontrollable desire to sleep. There are multiple things that cause sleepiness problems. Some of them are medical conditions, medications, drugs, alcohol and caffeine.

Confusion

The inability to think clearly or rapidly is referred to as confusion. It disrupts the concentration and focusing ability of an individual.

Viral infections for skin  

Molluscum contagiosum

A virus called Molluscum contagiosum causes a skin ailment. On the upper layers of your skin, it causes raised lumps, benign or lesions.

They go away on their own and rarely leave scars. The duration of the infection varies from person to person.

Herpes simplex virus-1

The Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a life-threatening virus. This virus is divided into two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 creates sores around the lips and within the mouth, which are known as cold sores or fever blisters.

Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV)

Varicella is also known to be chickenpox and is a serious condition that is caused by an infection called the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). VZV remains latent in the body after the first infection.

Viral food poisoning

Hepatitis A

The Hepatitis A virus causes a very contagious liver ailment called Hepatitis A. The virus is one of the types of Hepatitis viruses that cause inflammation and impairment in the liver.

Norovirus 

Norovirus is a gastrointestinal virus that causes vomiting and diarrhoea. It is popularly known as the “winter vomiting bug”. It normally disappears after two days of the infection.

Rotavirus

Rotavirus is an intestinal virus that causes Diarrhoea and other symptoms. It is highly contagious that targets newborns and young children around the world. The Rotavirus infects the stomach and intestines. It leads to problems like vomiting, fever, diarrhoea, belly pain and dehydration.

Stiffness in neck

Stiffness in the neck generally occurs when one of the muscles in the neck becomes tensed or strained. It occurs due to mild or severe damage in the vertebrae of the body.

Many people can relieve stiffness at home. Sometimes, it can also be a sign of a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention.

Viral infections for sex  

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV does not show symptoms in the initial stage and it infects others only through sexual contact. Some of the major HPV symptoms are warts on the genitals and plantar warts.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is typically caused by a virus named Hepatitis B virus that affects the liver. The Hepatitis B virus can be easily avoided with the support of a vaccine.

Genital herpes

The Genital herpes simplex virus causes genital herpes, which is a common sexually transmitted infection (HSV). In most cases, it is caused due to sexual problems. The virus continues to remain dormant and ineffective in your body after the first infection.

Genital herpes usually comes up with symptoms including itching, pain and lesions. Even if you have no visible sores, there are chances that you can also be affected by this condition.

Human immunodeficiency virus

The Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system of the body. If left untreated it may have the chance of developing into AIDS.

Risk factors of viral infections

Smoking

Inhaling and exhaling gases from burning plant material is known as smoking. Smoking is done with several plant materials, including marijuana and hashish, but smoking is most frequently associated with tobacco in the form of cigarettes.

Poor hygiene

Poor hygiene is due to consuming low-nutrient foods that are unhealthy and a menace to our body. In most cases, poor hygiene problems occur due to depression and psychotic disorders. Oftentimes, poor hygiene causes problems like Dementia and other illnesses.

Crowded populations

Crowded populations are always dangerous, especially in times of pandemic. If people throng in one place, there are numerous possibilities of getting affected by viral infections.

Medical conditions

Viral infection comes up with several risk factors including serious medical conditions. These medical conditions range from mild to low depending on the severity of the infections caused by the virus.

Age  

Age plays a major role in the condition of viral infections. Doctors or any health practitioners recommend treatments and medications considering the age and immunity of patients. If you are very old and feeble, viral infections attack your body easily without giving room for the body’s immune system to fight back.

Disability  

Disability is the biggest disadvantage to a person because they can easily get tainted by a viral infection very easily. Disability lowers your immune power to fight against threatening viral infection.

Stress and other mental health factors 

Infection with a virus causes the host to produce more stress proteins. These stress proteins instigate your body to produce more problems that cause other mental health problems.

Prevention of viral infections

You can prevent viral infections from attacking your body in the following ways:

Frequent hand-washing

Hand washing is a simple and effective approach to avoiding infection. Hand washing is a good hygiene practice to follow every time so that you can avoid all petty infections and illnesses from affecting your body.

Covering your nose and mouth

If you are infected by any viral infections or your surroundings have more spreading of viral infections, it is advisable to cover your nose and mouth to avoid being attacked by the infection.

While coughing or sneezing

Cough and sneeze should be covered, and hands should be kept clean to prevent the spread of dangerous respiratory infections such as influenza, whooping cough and COVID-19.

Avoiding contact with infected people

If you see anyone of your close members affected by any viral infections, make sure to distance yourself from them. This proactive measure safeguards you and your surroundings from being attacked by viral infection.

Summing up

Viral infections like the common cold or stomach flu generally resolve on their own without the aid of treatment and medications.

In most cases, viruses do not react to antibiotics. Therefore, treatment for viral infections essentially focuses on managing the symptom and boosting the power of the immune system.

FAQ’S

1. What are 3 common viral infections?

There are numerous viral infections that affect human beings. Some of the common viral infections are common cold, Influenza (flu), Herpes, Chickenpox, Human papillomavirus (HPV) and Mumps.

2. How long does a viral infection last?

A common viral infection may last for one or two weeks depending on the infection and condition of the patient.

3. Will a viral infection go away by itself?

The good news is that most viral infections aren’t life-threatening. Without medical care, the majority of them will go away in a few days.

4. Which disease is not caused by viruses? 

Diseases that are not caused by viruses include Anthrax, Cholera, Tetanus, Pneumonia, diphtheria, etc.

5. How do you heal a viral infection?

Treatments for most viral infections can only help to cure symptoms associated with the infections. Antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections. Vaccines can help your body fight against viral infections.

6. What are the signs of viral infection?

Some of the important signs of viral infection include headache, sore throat, coughing, fatigue, abdominal pain, high fever, vomiting, etc.

7. What is the best treatment for viral infection?

Antiviral drugs help to defend your body against viruses. The medications can help to alleviate symptoms and minimise the duration of a viral illness. Antivirals also reduce the chances of contracting or spreading viruses such as Herpes and HIV.

8. What is the fastest way to get rid of a viral infection?

You can recover quickly from the viral infection by following the below steps:
1. Eating healthy foods
2. Good sleep
3. Take OTC medications
4. Take a hot shower
5. Take flu shot
6. Take antiviral drugs with a doctor’s recommendation.

9. How long does it take for a viral infection to go away?

In most cases, healthy people get cured of the infection within a span of 5 to 12 days. The flu symptoms, including fever, will disappear completely in about 5 to 10 days.

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