A viral infection is an illness caused by a virus. Viruses are tiny infectious agents that can only replicate inside the cells of a host organism. They are responsible for a wide range of illnesses, from the common cold to more serious conditions such as HIV and COVID-19.

Symptoms of a viral infection can vary depending on the specific virus causing the infection. Common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, fatigue, and congestion. Some viral infections, such as the flu, can also cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In more severe cases, a viral infection can lead to pneumonia, meningitis, or encephalitis.

Viruses are spread through a variety of ways, including through the air (when an infected person coughs or sneezes), through close contact with an infected person, or through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. Some viruses, such as the ones that cause sexually transmitted infections, can also be spread through sexual contact.

There are currently no specific treatments for most viral infections, as antibiotics do not work on viruses. Treatment for viral infections typically focuses on relieving symptoms and allowing the body’s immune system to fight the infection. Over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can be used to reduce fever and relieve pain. Drinking plenty of fluids and getting rest can also help to alleviate symptoms and speed up recovery.

In some cases, antiviral medications can be used to treat viral infections, such as with influenza, herpes, and HIV. These medications can help to shorten the duration of the infection and reduce the severity of symptoms. Vaccines are also available for some viral infections, such as the flu and HPV, which can help to protect against these viruses.