Viral Fever: Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis

Viral fever is a group of viral infections that affects the body, and is characterized by high fever, burning in the eyes, headaches, body aches and sometimes nausea and vomiting. A viral infection can occur in any part of the body such as

Updated: August 17, 2020

Viral fever is a group of viral infections that affects the body and is characterized by high fever, burning in the eyes, headaches, body aches, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. A viral infection can occur in any part of the body such as the intestines or lungs.  it is not easy to differentiate between a bacterial infection and a viral fever as they share many of the same symptoms. Antibiotics cannot kill viruses, they kill harmful bacteria. So when you have a high fever with chills and it is showing no signs of abating,  visit a general practitioner to diagnose the cause of fever. Do not take antibiotics without finding the cause as antibiotics if taken unnecessarily affect your stomach lining, kill the good gut bacteria, cause acidity, and damage your liver and kidneys.
Children and elderly people are quite prone to viral fever due to lowered immunity. 

Causes of Viral Fever:

Viral fever can be caused by any number of viruses. Generally, viral fever is the common cold which is caused by a viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract. When the infected person sneezes, coughs, yawns, or even talks, tiny fluid particles are ejected from their bodies which contain bacteria and viruses. These bacteria enter your body through your nose or mouth and infect you if you are close by. It takes 16 to 48 hours to turn into a full-blown infection, once infected.

Symptoms of Viral Fever:

A viral fever shares many of the same symptoms with a bacterial infection or another type of infection. Hence to differentiate between a bacterial infection and a viral infection you need to keep watch for very high fever that is

  • Intermittent in nature that occurs at regular intervals.
  • Has been present for a long time.
  • Occurs along with chills
  • Does not subside with medicines

Other Symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • headache
  • muscle, body and joint pains
  • inflammation of the pharynx
  • painful tonsils
  • sore throat
  • chest congestion
  • nasal congestion
  • running nose
  • cough
  • skin rashes
  • burning sensation in eyes
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting

If you experience a high fever along with one or more of these symptoms, consult your doctor to determine if you have a viral fever.

Diagnosis of Viral Fever:

  • The doctor will be able to make a diagnosis based on your symptoms alone. But if the infection is severe,  a blood test can be done in order to make a definite diagnosis.
  • Blood tests can rule out any other conditions like dengue, malaria, chikungunya, typhoid, etc. Since a virus cannot be detected by a blood test, the test is mainly to rule out bacterial infection.

Few recommended tests for viral fever are:

Viral Antigen Detection Test:

A viral antigen detection test is often suggested to determine the cause of viral fever. When a virus infects a cell, viral antigens are developed on the surface of the infected cell.  These antigens help your immune system to produce antibodies to fight off the viral infection.


Antibody Test:

Your body produces antibodies to fight off an infection. Each antibody is specific to a virus and so an antibody blood test will determine the type and quantity of antibodies in your blood which will help to identify the specific virus that is causing your viral fever.


Viral Culture Test:

If the viral fever lasts for over a week, a viral culture test is required. In this test, a small sample of infected blood or urine is taken and allows it to remain in conditions that support the growth and development of the virus. The cellular changes that the virus causes can be seen using a microscope to identify the specific virus that is causing your viral feverIt can take several days to get the results of the test which is the main drawback to this type of test. 




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