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Viral Infection

A viral infection is caused by a virus and is often the cause of minor illness, such as a cold or the stomach flu. A viral infection usually causes many different symptoms that often come on quickly (over hours to a day or two) without prior illness.

Viral infections that cause minor illnesses are usually not serious. And they go away without medical treatment. Home treatment can relieve the symptoms of colds and stomach flu. And home treatment can prevent problems, such as dehydration, too. Antibiotics are not used to treat a viral illness and will not help cure a viral illness.

Some immunizations can prevent viral infections, including influenza (flu), chickenpox, and measles. Practicing good hygiene and avoiding close contact with sick people can also help prevent infection.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Last Revised April 11, 2013

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 11, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.