What Are Some Common Viral Infections?

Medically Reviewed on 8/11/2021
Common viruses and viral infections
Viruses cause some of the most common infections all over the world, including COVID-19. Here are the most common viral infections.

Viruses are tiny germs that cause some of the most common infections all over the world, including the current global COVID-19 pandemic. 

Some of the most common viral infections include:

Do antibiotics help in a viral infection?

No, antibiotics do not help treat a viral infection. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics only if you have an associated bacterial infection. Avoid taking antibiotics for viral infections because they are not useful and may cause undesirable side effects.

Taking antibiotics when not needed may also contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance. This means the same antibiotic may not be effective when needed because the bacteria it targets have developed a defense mechanism against it. Resistant bacteria can cause more serious infections, leading to a need for hospitalization.

Some think that developing a yellow or green mucus discharge means bacterial infections. Hence, they may try treating it with antibiotics. The truth is a greenish or yellowish discharge does not always mean that you have a bacterial infection. Although a viral infection initially causes a clear or watery mucus discharge, the color of the discharge changes as the immune system fights the infection. The mucus may eventually become thicker and yellow to green despite the absence of a bacterial infection. If, however, you think that you may have a bacterial infection, consult your doctor. They may prescribe antibiotics if needed.

How do you treat viral infections?

Most viral infections go away on their own within 10 to 14 days. Generally, symptomatic treatment at home aids in recovery from viral infections, although treatment may vary according to the type of virus and the part of the body it affects.

The following tips may help you manage viral infections at home:

  • Get adequate rest and enough sleep.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
    • If due to certain medical conditions, such as kidney diseases, your doctor has restricted your fluid intake, you may ask them about the quantity of fluid you can safely have.
    • Warm water with some lemon and honey will provide some vitamin C and energy that help you heal faster.
  • Take over-the-counter medications for fever and pain, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, following the label instructions.
    • Never give aspirin to a child or a teen because it may be harmful.
  • Take steam inhalation or a warm shower.
    • A warm bath can comfort the stuffiness and aches.
    • A heating pad may also help provide comfort from aches and pains.
    • Make sure that the temperature is not too high.
    • Sitting in a steam-filled bathroom may also ease body ache and congestion.
  • Adults and kids older than six years of age may take non-medicated lozenges to soothe the throat.
  • You may elevate the head a bit using an extra pillow to get relief from congestion or cough.
  • You can get over-the-counter saline nasal drops that contain salt and water to instill in the nose to relieve congestion.
  • Try some warm chicken soup.
    • Although there is not enough scientific evidence to support the role of warm chicken soup, many people report that it helps relieve congestion and recover faster.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself from pollution or cold air.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and lean meat.
  • Have ginger tea and other herbal teas.
  • Gargle with salt and water.
  • Avoid being around second-hand smoke.
  • Use a humidifier, as dryness in the air may worsen the symptoms.
    • You may use a cool-mist humidifier in the room to increase moisture in the air.

If despite these measures, your symptoms worsen or do not improve, you must consult your doctor. Contact your doctor if you develop:

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Medically Reviewed on 8/11/2021
References
Medline Plus. Viral Infections. https://medlineplus.gov/viralinfections.html

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. Protect Yourself and Your Family From Preventable Infectious Diseases. https://www.nfid.org/infectious-diseases/