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.
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