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Viral Syndrome

What is viral syndrome?

Viral syndrome is a term caregivers use for general symptoms of a viral infection that has no clear cause.

What are the signs and symptoms of viral syndrome?

Signs and symptoms may start slowly or suddenly and last hours to days. They can be mild to severe and can change over days or hours.

  • Fever and chills, or a rash

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Cough, sore throat, or hoarseness

  • Headache, or pain and pressure around your eyes

  • Muscle aches and joint pain

  • Shortness of breath or wheezing

  • Abdominal pain, cramps, and diarrhea

  • Nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite

How is viral syndrome diagnosed?

Your caregiver will ask about your symptoms and when they started. He may ask if you travel often or were bitten by an insect. He will ask about your medical history. You may also need one or more of the following tests:

  • Culture: A sample of nasal secretions, bowel movement, or another body fluid is collected. From the sample, caregivers may learn what germ is causing your illness. Samples from food or drink that you had may also be tested.

  • Blood tests: Blood may be taken to check for a virus or other cause of your symptoms.

  • Chest x-ray: Caregivers will use the x-ray to look for fluid around your heart or lungs or to check for a lung infection.

How is viral syndrome treated?

An illness caused by a virus usually goes away in 10 to 14 days without treatment. The following medicines may be given to help manage your signs and symptoms:

  • Antipyretics: These reduce fever.

  • Antihistamines: These help relieve a rash, itching, and trouble breathing.

  • Decongestants: These decrease a stuffy nose so that you can breathe more easily.

  • Antitussives: These help control a cough.

  • Antiviral medicine: These help kill the virus and control symptoms.

What increases my risk for viral syndrome?

  • You are an older adult or elderly.

  • Your immune system is weakened from illness, or from a stem cell or organ transplant.

  • You smoke or are around people who smoke.

  • You travel often.

  • You swim in a pool that is not chlorinated correctly.

What can I do to help prevent the spread of viral syndrome?

Viruses are spread easily from person to person through the air and on shared items. You can spread a virus to other people for weeks after your symptoms go away. The following are ways to prevent the spread of a virus:

  • Wash your hands: Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based gel. Wash your hands after you touch someone who is sick.

  • Wear a mask: A mask can help you prevent the spread of a virus. If you need to wear a mask, ask your caregiver where to get one.

  • Cook and handle food properly: Cook food completely through. Clean food preparation surfaces with a disinfectant.

What vaccinations should I get to help prevent viral illness?

Ask your caregiver if you should have any of the following vaccines:

  • Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPV) helps prevent certain types of meningococcal disease. MPV is usually given to adults 56 years or older who are at high risk for the disease.

  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) helps prevent pneumococcal disease, such as pneumonia. The PPV is given to adults aged 65 years or older. Adults younger than 65 who are at a higher risk for pneumococcal disease also may need the vaccine.

  • Influenza vaccine helps prevent influenza (flu). Everyone older than 6 months should get a yearly influenza vaccine. Get the vaccine as soon as it is available, usually in October or November each year.

What are the risks of viral syndrome?

Caregivers may not know that you have a serious disease. Signs and symptoms of very serious diseases may look like viral syndrome. A sinus infection can turn into a bacterial infection. A viral infection can lead to a serious, life-threatening infection anywhere in your body. Viral syndrome may make your chronic bronchitis, asthma, or COPD worse. You can get a viral illness more than once, even with treatment.

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • Your symptoms get worse after 5 to 7 days.

  • Your symptoms do not go away within 10 days.

  • You have thick drainage or pus coming out of 1 or both nostrils and pain in one side of your face.

  • You have a fever and pain.

  • You have green sputum.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have continued vomiting and diarrhea.

  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.