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Viral Syndrome


What is 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.

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. You may have any of 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

How is viral syndrome diagnosed and treated?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine you. Tell him about any recent travel or insect bites. An illness caused by a virus usually goes away in 10 to 14 days without treatment. You may need medicine to help manage your symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, cough, or congestion. Antibiotics are not given for a viral infection.

How can I manage my 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. Liquids 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.

Call 911 or have someone else call 911 if:

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

When should I seek immediate care?

  • 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.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • 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.

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 healthcare providers 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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Further information

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

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