Viral Syndrome – Everything You Need to Know

The COVID pandemic has had many negative impacts on the world but it has also led to some positive impacts such as people being more aware of how important their health is. Not making health a priority can have devastating effects. 

Part of leading a healthy lifestyle is gaining more knowledge about health, medicine, and the human body. In the medical community, this is called ‘health literacy’. 

Learning about health is important for people who want to lead a healthier, longer, and better quality of life. The COVID pandemic has helped shed more light on the importance of knowing about health and the human body. 

An important general medical concept to learn is the difference between bacterial and viral infections. People are sometimes disappointed when they go to their doctor because they aren’t feeling well and the doctor tells them they have a virus. They may tell the patient they just need to rest and take some over-the-counter cold medication. 

This leaves people wondering, “Can’t they just give me an antibiotic or some other medication?” or “Why didn’t they prescribe me anything?”. Let’s explore what a viral syndrome is and how it is treated. 

What is Viral Syndrome?

Viral syndrome is a general term used to describe the symptoms caused by a viral infection. Some general symptoms of a viral infection include fever, cough, chills, sore throat, congestion, headache, difficulty breathing, pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, aches, fatigue, and/or loss of appetite.    

Virus Infections vs Bacteria Infections

When you go to a healthcare provider for an acute sickness they will do a physical assessment, ask you questions, and order any needed testing. They are acting as a ‘medical detective’. They are gathering all the information so they can decide what the cause or etiology of your sickness is. 

To treat you and give you advice, they need to know what is causing your symptoms. Determining the cause of a sickness is sometimes difficult, may take time, and need more follow-up appointments. When treating a sickness such as a ‘cold’, the healthcare provider needs to determine if the cause is bacterial or viral. 

Microorganisms, also known as ‘germs’ cause sickness. The main types of germs that can make you sick are bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Which one is causing your sickness, will determine the type of treatment you will need.

How Do I Know I Have a Viral Infection?

The best way to determine if you have a virus is to see a healthcare provider. They will do a physical assessment, ask you questions, and order any necessary testing. Viruses can affect many different parts and systems of the body. 

For example, one type of virus could affect your lungs and cause a respiratory infection while another type of virus could affect your gastrointestinal tract and cause a ‘stomach bug’. 

What are Viral Syndrome Symptoms?

Viral syndrome is a general term used to describe the symptoms caused by a viral infection. The symptoms of a virus will usually depend on what part of the body the virus has infected. General symptoms of a virus include fever, cough, chills, sore throat, congestion, headache, difficulty breathing, pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, aches, fatigue, and/or loss of appetite.   

How Long Does Viral Syndrome Last?

A virus can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Viruses can also have lingering effects that could last longer. Every person is unique in their medical history, immune system, genetics, and body so everyone heals at a different rate. 

If your sickness is prolonged or you have symptoms that are lingering, you should follow up with a healthcare provider. They may want to do more testing or keep an eye on the symptoms you are having.  

How is Viral Syndrome Diagnosed?

Viral syndrome refers to symptoms caused by a virus. The best method to determine if someone has a virus is for them to see a healthcare provider. The healthcare provider will do a physical exam, ask assessment questions, order any necessary testing, and make recommendations. 

How Do You Treat Viral Syndrome?

Antibiotics are used for bacterial infections and are not effective against viruses. If you take an antibiotic for a viral infection, it will not help. If you have a specific type of virus such as COVID, there may be antiviral medication available but a general virus is not treated that way. The only way to treat a general virus is using supportive measures, symptom management, and rest. Your healthcare provider may recommend acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or cold medicine to help relieve symptoms. 

When to See a Doctor?

If you are experiencing any cold or virus symptoms, you should see a healthcare provider. They will do an exam, ask you about your symptoms, order any needed testing, and make recommendations. They will be able to determine if you are experiencing a bacterial infection, viral infection, or another medical condition. It is important to seek care early in your sickness. If you wait, your symptoms could worsen.  

Get Help From an Online Doctor

Technology has now allowed patients to connect with healthcare providers quicker than ever before. At DrHouse you can connect with a board-certified doctor in as little as 15 minutes. You can even schedule an in-person visit with one of their doctors. This is convenient when it comes to getting medical treatment faster. 

It will take some primary doctor’s office days to get you in for an appointment. With DrHouse you could see an online doctor in less time than it takes you to cook a meal or take a shower. You won’t even have to leave your house. This will save you time and allow you to get quick treatment for your symptoms and medical concerns.

Key Takeaways

Viral syndrome is a general term used to describe the symptoms caused by a viral infection. General symptoms of a virus include fever, cough, chills, sore throat, congestion, headache, difficulty breathing, pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, aches, fatigue, and/or loss of appetite.

Viruses can affect many different parts and systems of the body. The best way to determine if you have a virus is to see a healthcare provider. They will do a physical assessment, ask you questions, order any necessary testing, and make recommendations. 

DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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