May also be called: Virus
A viral infection is an infection or disease caused by a virus (a type of germ).
Infections can be caused by different germs, such as bacteria or viruses. Viral infections can cause many different symptoms, like fever, congestion, sore throat, cough, ear pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash.
Sometimes the responsible virus is easily determined while other times this isn't possible. While both viral and bacterial infections can make someone feel sick, only infections caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics.
Antibiotics won't help a viral infection get better or keep it from being contagious, and can sometimes cause unnecessary side effects.
Viral infections can be frustrating and uncomfortable. But with rest and supportive care (like staying hydrated), most people will feel better in a few days.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|Word! Virus Viruses are a type of germ. They're very tiny, and when they get inside your body, they can make you sick.|
|First Aid: Common Cold Kids can get up to eight colds a year - or more. The common cold sends more kids to the doctor than any other illness.|
|Hand Washing Did you know that the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands? If you don't wash your hands frequently, you can pick up germs from other sources and then infect yourself.|
|Why Is Hand Washing So Important? Did you know that proper hand washing is the best way to keep from getting sick? Here's how to teach this all-important habit to your kids.|
|Flu Center The flu can make you sick for a week or more. Find out how to get protected from the influenza virus.|
|Flu Center Get the basics on how flu spreads and how to protect yourself.|
|Flu Center Learn all about protecting your family from the flu and what to do if your child gets flu-like symptoms.|
|Chilling Out With Colds Cough, sneeze, snort. Those are the sounds of a cold. Find out more about colds in this article for kids.|
|Why Should I Care About Germs? Germs are tiny organisms that can cause disease - and they're so small that they can creep into your system without you noticing. Find out how to protect yourself.|
|Coping With Colds Most teens get between two and four colds each year. Read this article for the facts on chicken soup, cold medicines, and other ways to feel better.|
|Respiratory Syncytial Virus Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of respiratory illness in young children. Learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of this contagious infection.|
|Common Cold With kids getting up to eight colds a year, this contagious viral infection is the most common infectious disease in the United States and the top reason kids visit the doctor and miss school.|
|Your Immune System The immune system keeps you healthy. How does it work? Find out in this article for kids.|
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