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Viral Syndrome


What is viral syndrome?

Viral syndrome is a term healthcare providers 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

What increases my risk for viral syndrome?

  • Older age
  • A weak immune system from illness, or from a stem cell or organ transplant
  • Smoking or being around people who smoke
  • Traveling often
  • Swimming in a pool that is not chlorinated correctly

How is viral syndrome diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider 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:

  • A sample of nasal secretions, bowel movement, or another body fluid may be tested. Samples from food or drink that you had may also be tested.
  • Blood tests may be used to check for a virus or other cause of your symptoms.
  • An x-ray may be used to check 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 reduce fever.
  • Antihistamines help relieve a rash, itching, and trouble breathing.
  • Decongestants decrease a stuffy nose so that you can breathe more easily.
  • Antitussives help control a cough.
  • Antivirals help keep the virus from increasing, and help control symptoms.

What can I do to help prevent the spread of a virus?

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 often. Use soap and water, or use an alcohol-based gel. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child's diapers, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food. Use a gel hand cleaner if soap and water are not available.
  • Wear a mask to help prevent spreading the virus to others.
  • Cook and handle food properly. Cook food completely through. Clean food preparation surfaces with a disinfectant.
  • Ask about vaccinations. You may need a flu, pneumonia, or meningococcal vaccine.

What are the risks of viral syndrome?

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 seek immediate care?

  • You have continued vomiting and diarrhea.
  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • 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.

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.

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