What does it mean to have a viral infection?
A virus is a microscopic agent (germ) that lives in host cells, which are also referred to as “living cells.” To replicate, viruses must replicate within living cells, also known as host cells. Viruses require living cells to reproduce. There are thousands of viruses, some of which are more common than others. The common cold and influenza, for example, are viruses, as are Ebola and HIV. Minor viral infections in healthy people can be disastrous for people with weakened immune systems. Sepsis can be caused by almost any virus.
Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, is the body’s lethal response to an infection or injury. Sepsis, like heart attacks and strokes, is a medical emergency that must be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
Viral infection Causes
When an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks, droplets are released that can enter an uninfected person’s nose, mouth, or eyes. This is the most common method of virus transmission.
Viral infections spread less frequently when a person touches an infected surface and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
Viral Infection: Danger Factors and Consequences
Some people with viral infections have no or only mild symptoms. Viral infections, on the other hand, can result in more serious, even fatal, complications.
Among those most susceptible to viral infection complications are:
- Older adults.
- Patients with underlying conditions (diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, etc.) and/or immunocompromised patients.
- Pregnant and newly pregnant women.
Preventing viral infection
Follow these guidelines to reduce your risk of contracting or transmitting a viral infection.
- Get immunised. Vaccines against viral infections are now available to all Americans over the age of five. Vaccines are both effective and safe. They are especially effective in preventing serious viral infections, hospitalisation, and death. Please visit our website for more information.
- Put on a facemask. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all Americans over the age of two who are not fully immunised wear a facemask in public indoor spaces. People who are fully immunised should consider wearing a facemask in public if they are immunocompromised or live in an area where viral infection transmission is common. Whether or not you are fully vaccinated, you must follow all laws, regulations, and guidelines regarding facemasks.
Wash your hands frequently. Wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. After coughing or sneezing, before eating, after using the restroom, and after touching shared surfaces, wash your hands. If soap and water are not available, a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol should be used. Apply hand sanitizer to both sides of your hands and rub them together until they are dry.
- Sanitise common items such as tables, countertops, doorknobs, and handles.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- When you sneeze and cough, cover your mouth and nose.
- Avoid close contact with sick individuals. Keep a minimum distance of 6 feet.
- Stay at home if you are ill. If you have symptoms of a viral infection, such as a fever or cough, or if you have been exposed to someone with a viral infection, contact your doctor or UPMC AnywhereCare. A video visit from home helps to keep disease at bay.
- If you have severe symptoms, like a high fever or trouble breathing, you should call 911 or go to the emergency room at your local hospital right away.
Infection with a virus: symptoms and diagnosis
After being exposed to a virus, it can take anywhere from 2 to 14 days for symptoms to show up. They are similar to cold or flu symptoms and may include:
- Breathing difficulty/breathlessness
- The muscles and body ache.
- inability to taste or smell.
- painful throat.
- Congestion and nosebleeds
Identifying a viral infection
Because the symptoms of a viral infection are similar to those of other respiratory diseases, lab tests are required to confirm the infection.
If you suspect you have a viral infection or have been exposed to someone who has one, contact your doctor or use UPMC AnywhereCare. They can make arrangements for your testing.
Throughout our communities, UPMC has viral infection testing centers. You will need an appointment or a doctor’s referral to be tested. There is no walk-in testing available.
Viral disease treatment
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has approved a number of treatments for viral infections. UPMC recommends Primovir and Paxista as oral medications for outpatients with mild to moderate viral infections.
Primovir is an antiviral pill that must be taken orally within five days of the onset of a virus. This medication is available from online pharmacies and can be prescribed by a medical professional (doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant), and you can purchase Paxista online from Primovir.com. You are ineligible for Primovir because you have low renal function (eGFR of 30 mL/min). Before taking Primovir and Paxista, your doctor should carefully review your medication list, as certain drugs should not be combined with this medication.