What is viral fever?
Viral fever is an umbrella term for a group of viral infections that affects the body and is characterized by high fever, burning in the eyes, headaches, body aches and sometimes nausea and vomiting.
Viral fever is common among children and older people as their immunity is lower. The fever by itself is not an illness, it is a symptom of an underlying cause, which is a viral infection. A viral infection can occur in any part of the body, intestines, lungs, air passages etc. The fever will occur as a result of the infection. The high fever is usually a sign of the immune system of the body, fighting against the intruding viruses and “burning them off”.
Many people tend to self-medicate, sometimes even by taking antibiotics, when they have an intermittent high fever with chills, which is a bad idea. Antibiotics cannot kill viruses. They kill harmful bacteria. Antibiotics, if taken unnecessarily can affect your stomach lining, kill the good gut bacteria, cause acidity and damage your liver and kidneys.
If you come down with fever, which is < 103 F/40 C, and it shows no signs of abating, it will be wise to consult your family doctor or visit a general practitioner and get yourself checked.
How does viral fever occur?
Viral fever is transmitted from one person to another through contact with the infected person’s bodily fluids. When the infected person yawns, sneezes, coughs, or even talks, tiny sprays of fluids are ejected from their bodies which may enter your system if you are close by. Once the virus enters your system, it takes anywhere from 16 hours to 48 hours to turn to a full raging infection with fever in your body.
You may suddenly experience high fever, chills, headaches, body pain, and tremendous weakness.
Some severe strains of viral fever which cause haemorrhaging are spread by mosquitoes, tick bites, or by coming into contact with an infected person’s blood or semen.
It can take upto 21 days for some strains of viral fever to develop after the initial exposure to the virus.
Some particular viral fever strains can also enter into the human body when one inhales near infected rat faeces or urine.
Who is prone to viral fever?
You could be at risk of getting infected with viral fever if:
- you are close to an infected person
- you travel to an area where a particular viral fever is prevalent
- you live in an area where particular strains of viral fevers are doing the rounds
- you are working with sick people
- you have unprotected sex
- you share needles for intravenous drugs
- you are near infected animals or are slaughtering them
- your building is infested with rats
Babies, small children and elderly people are also quite prone to viral fever since their immunity is low.
What are the symptoms of viral fever? How is viral fever diagnosed?
The symptoms of viral fever include:
- fever (which intermittently rises and falls)
- muscle, body and joint pains
- inflammation of the pharynx
- painful tonsils
- running nose
- nasal congestion
- chest congestion
- sore throat
- burning sensation in eyes
- skin rashes
Since the viral fever symptoms are common to many diseases, diagnosing the specific form of fever can be difficult. The doctor will ask you to undertake a blood test for a confirmation of the diagnosis and to rule out the possibility of any disease such as dengue, malaria, chikungunya, typhoid, etc.
What are the complications of a viral fever?
Usually, viral fever subsides within a week or ten days. However, severe cases of viral fever may lead to complications such as :
- delirium and hallucinations
- nervous system malfunctions
- kidney failure
- liver failure
- respiratory fever
- multi-organ failure
- sepsis (blood infection)
Viral fevers caused by viruses such as the arbovirus may lead to bleeding from the skin, internal organs, mouth, eyes or ears. This can be fatal for the patient if timely treatment is not administered.
What is the treatment for viral fever?
There are no antibiotics for virus infection. The doctor may give you fever reducers. He may also prescribe antibiotics, however, those are to counter any secondary infections you may catch while sick. If a doctor prescribes antibiotics, it is highly necessary to complete the full course. If you stop taking the antibiotics midway, your body will create antibiotic-resistant bacteria. So, in future, if you are prescribed antibiotics for any illness, some of them might not work for you due to the presence of the resistant bacterias in your body.
In The Spotlight
Questions answered by trusted doctors
Did you know?
Frequent viral fever relapse cases on the rise
Cases of viral fever relapse is occurring with disturbing frequency among patients in India, sometimes within 15 days.
People above 40 years most affected by viral fever
People above the age group of 40 years seem to be the most affected ones in India.
Dengue & chikungunya-like viral fevers most common
Viral fevers which imitate the symptoms of dengue and chikungunya seem to be doing the most rounds in this country.
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