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:
- Common cold
- Influenza (flu)
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu, may be caused by different types of viruses, such as rotavirus, norovirus)
- Viral hepatitis
- Infectious mononucleosis
- Viral conjunctivitis
- Molluscum contagiosum
- Zika virus
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:
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. Protect Yourself and Your Family From Preventable Infectious Diseases. https://www.nfid.org/infectious-diseases/
Top What Are Some Common Viral Infections Related Articles
Coronavirus: How COVID-19 Affects Your BodyBy now, everyone knows about COVID-19. But do you know how it can affect your body?
Coronavirus Myths and Facts: Test Your Medical IQWe know more about coronavirus than we did in early 2020. Can you separate the myths from the facts?
COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Mask Mistakes You're Making NowYou're wearing your mask every time you leave home. But could you be making simple mistakes that make your mask less effective? Find out the most common errors that can leave you unprotected and simple ways to fix them.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Prevention TipsCOVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that spreads from person to person via infected respiratory droplets. The main symptoms of COVID-19 infection include cough, fever, and shortness of breath. Occasionally, people infected with COVID-19 may experience diarrhea, a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, or aches and pains. Avoiding contact with infected people, social distancing, not touching your face, frequent hand washing, cleaning, and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces can help to reduce your risk of contracting the 2019 novel coronavirus.
How Can I Get Rid of a Virus Fast?Any seasonal change invites viral infections. Children, old people, and those with diabetes are particularly vulnerable to various kinds of viral illnesses. Viral infection may last for only 1-2 weeks. However, the symptoms may interrupt your daily routine making you want to get rid of the virus immediately.
How Dangerous Is the Coronavirus Disease?The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been declared a global emergency. As per experts, the coronavirus disease is considered the worst crisis since World War II and has led to stringent lockdowns by governments worldwide.
How Do You Know if You Have a Sinus Infection (Sinusitis) or COVID-19 Coronavirus?Learn how the signs and symptoms of a sinus infection are different from those caused by COVID-19.
How Do You Know if You Have Bronchitis or COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?What is the difference between bronchitis and COVID-19 (Coronavirus)? Learn how to recognize the symptoms of bronchitis and COVID-19 to help you treat either illness. Bronchitis or “chest cold” refers to the inflammation of the airways (bronchial tubes) in the lungs. Air passes through the lungs within a network of tubules called bronchial tubes. Bronchitis is often associated with persistent, nagging coughs with mucus. Learn more about when a cold becomes bronchitis.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection left untreated causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a type of virus called a retrovirus, which can infect humans when it comes in contact with tissues that line the vagina, anal area, mouth, or eyes, or through a break in the skin. HIV infection is generally a slowly progressive disease in which the virus is present throughout the body at all stages of the disease. Three stages of HIV infection have been described. The initial stage of infection (primary infection), which occurs within weeks of acquiring the virus, often is characterized by the flu- or mono-like illness that generally resolves within weeks. The stage of chronic asymptomatic infection (meaning a long duration of infection without symptoms) lasts an average of eight to 10 years without treatment. The stage of symptomatic infection, in which the body's immune (or defense) system has been suppressed and complications have developed, is called the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The symptoms are caused by the complications of AIDS, which include one or more unusual infections or cancers, severe loss of weight, and intellectual deterioration (called dementia). When HIV grows (that is, by reproducing itself), it acquires the ability to change (mutate) its own structure. These mutations enable the virus to become resistant to previously effective drug therapy. The goals of drug therapy are to prevent damage to the immune system by the HIV virus and to halt or delay the progress of the infection to symptomatic disease. Therapy for HIV includes combinations of drugs that decrease the growth of the virus to such an extent that the treatment prevents or markedly delays the development of viral resistance to the drugs. The best combination of drugs for HIV are those that effectively suppress viral replication in the blood and also are well tolerated and simple to take so that people can take the medications consistently without missing doses.
Mono (Infectious Mononucleosis)Infectious mononucleosis is a virus infection in which there is an increase of white blood cells that are mononuclear (with a single nucleus) "Mono" and "kissing disease" are popular terms for this very common illness caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
Is It a Stomach Virus or Food Poisoning?A stomach virus is also called stomach flu or gastroenteritis. It is a viral infection that infects the tummy and the gut. Food poisoning is also often called gastroenteritis and may present symptoms like stomach virus/stomach flu. However, food poisoning is caused by consuming food or drinks that may be contaminated with bacteria.
Norovirus: Symptoms, Treatment, and PreventionNorovirus isn't really the "winter stomach flu," but it can make you very sick. Follow these tips to avoid infection.
Myths and Facts About ShinglesThere are some common misconceptions about this viral illness and the uncomfortable rash it can cause. Here's a guide through the myths and facts of shingles.
West Nile Virus PictureThe mosquito-borne virus that causes West Nile fever. One of the flaviviruses, a family of viruses also responsible for dengue, yellow fever, and tick-borne encephalitis virus. Like the other flaviviruses, the West Nile virus is a positive-strand RNA virus containing three structural proteins and a host-derived lipid bilayer. The West Nile virus is an icosahedral structure of about 500 angstroms in diameter. The overall structure of the West Nile virus most closely resembles that of dengue fever virus but the surface proteins are slightly different, which may give West Nile virus some of its unique features.
What Causes Human Papillomavirus Infection (HPV)?Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common viral infection that is transmitted through sexual activity. People can get an HPV infection by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone infected with the virus. HPV infections often resolve without treatment and do not cause any health problems. A persistent HPV infection though may lead to warts, cancer of the mouth and throat, and cervical cancer.
What Is the Monkey B Virus?Monkey B virus is a herpes virus that mainly affects macaque monkeys but in rare cases can be transmitted to humans and cause serious illness.
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Prevention QuizWhy is coronavirus considered dangerous? What are the symptoms you should look for? Take this COVID-19 prevention quiz to learn how to protect yourself.