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Viral Syndrome


Viral syndrome

is a term used for symptoms of an infection caused by a virus. Viruses are spread easily from person to person through the air and on shared items.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Fever and chills
  • A 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

Call 911 for the following:

  • You have a seizure.
  • You cannot be woken.
  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have a stiff neck, a bad headache, and sensitivity to light.
  • You feel weak, dizzy, or confused.
  • You stop urinating or urinate a lot less than normal.
  • You cough up blood or thick, yellow or green, mucus.
  • You have severe abdominal pain or your abdomen is larger than usual.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your symptoms do not get better with treatment, or get worse, after 3 days.
  • You have a rash or ear pain.
  • You have burning when you urinate.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for viral syndrome

may include medicines to manage your symptoms. An illness caused by a virus usually goes away in 10 to 14 days without treatment. Antibiotics are not given for a viral infection. You may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much medicine to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Cold medicine helps decrease swelling, control a cough, and relieve chest or nasal congestion.
  • Saline nasal spray helps decrease nasal congestion.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Drink liquids as directed to prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Ask if you should drink an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS has the right amounts of water, salts, and sugar you need to replace body fluids. This may help prevent dehydration caused by vomiting or diarrhea. Do not drink liquids with caffeine. Drinks with caffeine can make dehydration worse.
  • Get plenty of rest to help your body heal. Take naps throughout the day. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to work and your normal activities.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier to help you breathe easier if you have nasal or chest congestion. Ask your healthcare provider how to use a cool mist humidifier.
  • Eat honey or use cough drops to help decrease throat discomfort. Ask your healthcare provider how much honey you should eat each day. Cough drops are available without a doctor's order. Follow directions for taking cough drops.
  • Do not smoke and stay away from others who smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage. Smoking can also delay healing. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs to others. Use soap and water. Use gel hand cleaner when soap and water are not available. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, cough, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 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 IBM Watson Health

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Viral Syndrome (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex