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What Is Viral Fever? Know More About Its Symptoms, Causes, Treatment And Prevention

Viral fever is a condition characterised by increased body temperature or high fever caused due to a virus invasion. Basically, viral fever is an umbrella term for a number of infections caused by viruses that leads to high fever.

In this article, we will discuss viral fever, its symptoms, causes, treatment and other information.

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What Is Viral Fever?

The term ‘viral fever' often gets misunderstood by people. Fever is not a disease but just a symptom. When pathogens attack our body, in response to their invasion, our immune system releases inflammatory cytokines that raises the body temperature above 98.6 degrees F (normal body temperature) to make the environment uncomfortable for pathogens to live.

Different pathogen types such as virus, bacteria, fungi and influenza may attack our body and raise the temperature. However, when a viral infection is the reason behind the high body temperature, it is known as viral fever. [1]

To note, a viral infection can attack any body part such as lungs, kidney and intestines and the burning temperature is an indication that our immune system has started fighting off the viruses.

Some viral fever comes down in a few days while others may take days to go. It is better to consult a medical expert if the fever persists for 3-4 days.

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Symptoms Of Viral Fever

The high temperature in viral fever can range between 99°F to over 103°F (39°C). Other symptoms that follow with raised temperature depends on the type of underlying virus. Some common symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Chills [2]
  • Body pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Nasal congestion
  • Skin rash [3]
  • Dehydration
  • Sore throat
  • Redness of eyes

Note: The viral fever usually starts within 16-48 hours of getting infected followed by other symptoms. Some virus types may take up to 21 days to show symptoms.

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Causes Of Viral Fever

There are many ways by which a person can come in contact with viral infections. They include:

  • Coming in contact with an infected person's droplets which come out when they sneeze or cough. [4]
  • Contaminated foods or drinks.
  • Coming in contact with infected bodily fluids of humans
  • Animal bites (dengue fever or rabies). [5]
  • Staying in contaminated areas.
  • Coming in contact with rats excreta

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Risk Factors Of Viral Fever

  • Being children or elderly
  • Having a weak immune system
  • Cold temperature [6]

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Complications Of Viral Fever

Untreated viral fever or late treatment of viral fever can cause complications such as:

  • Hallucinations
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • kidney/liver failure
  • Blood infection
  • Multi-organ failure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Malfunction of the nervous system [7]

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Diagnosis Of Viral Fever

Viral fever diagnosis is often confused with flu or bacterial infections as they too are accompanied by a fever. In that case, other symptoms are reviewed with some tests that include:

  • Swab test: Here, a sample of secretion is collected from the back of the nose, near the throat region and send for proper identification of the pathogen type under a microscope. [8]
  • Blood test: To analyse the white blood cells count which is a marker of a viral infection.
  • Urine test: To rule out other infection types.

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Treatment Of Viral Fever

Treatments for a viral fever depends on the severity of the condition. People often self-medicate with an antibiotic. This can worsen the condition as antibiotics are for bacterial infections not viral.

Many viral fevers don't require medications and go away within a few days or by simple home remedies. Treatment methods are mainly to lower the temperature. They include:

  • Over-the-counter medications such as Ibuprofen.
  • Antiviral medications [9]
  • Electrolytes to prevent dehydration.
  • Medication to relieve nasal congestion.

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How To Prevent Viral Fever?

  • Maintain proper hand hygiene
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Eat foods that boost your immune system such as vitamin C
  • Exercise regularly
  • Cover yourself properly in cold weather
  • Maintain distance with sick people
  • Avoid eating outside foods
  • Look out for signs of fever and related symptoms

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Common FAQs

1. How many days does a viral fever last?

A viral fever usually lasts for two-three days. If the fever persists or recurs frequently, consult a medical expert soon.

2. What is the fastest way to cure viral fever?

Keeping yourself hydrated and taking adequate rest is the fastest way to cure viral fever.

3. What should we eat during viral fever?

During a viral fever, people usually loses their appetite. However, it is suggested to eat foods that boost the immune system such as vitamin C, leafy green, chicken soap, garlic and yoghurt.

Story first published: Thursday, August 27, 2020, 16:30 [IST]