Viral Infections: A Common Childhood Battle
Viral infection in babies are among the most common illnesses affecting them. A viral infection of the respiratory system and intestines is the most common. It also spreads rapidly from the infected child through sneezing, coughing, common towels handkerchiefs, etc. to other children or family members.
It is possible to recover from viral infections without medicines within 7 to 10 days. Antibiotics are used only when a bacterial infection sets in along with the existing viral infection. Similar to common cold and cough, viruses attack different systems of the body and also result in severe diseases like hepatitis, meningitis, etc.
Signs of viral infection in children
A viral infection goes unseen or does not produce symptoms when the immune system is strong. This is generally seen in adults. However, viral symptoms are clearly visible in children because their immune system is weak.
Viral fever in children is the chief presenting sign of a viral infection. In many cases, rash accompanies the fever.
Examples of viral diseases that are common in children between 6 months to 5 years include
- Influenza virus which affects the respiratory system resulting in cough and common cold. Running nose or stuffy nose, sneezing, watering of eyes, sore throat, etc. are common during a viral infection. The kid is cranky, avoids food and becomes dull and weak due to a viral infection.
- Rotavirus infection of respiratory system and the intestines causes flu and loose motions. The child passes watery or loose stools frequently in a day, and vomiting may or may not be present with high fever.
- Croup is a viral infection that causes swelling in the windpipe and larynx. There is hoarseness of voice, a cough that has a barking sound, running nose, fever and wheezing. In severe cases there is rapid and difficult breathing.
- Chicken pox is caused by the varicella zoster virus that presents with painful or itchy transparent fluid-filled boils all over the body.
- Measles presents with fever and a rash on the body, runny nose, body ache and white spots inside the mouth (koplik's spots).
- Mumps results in swelling of the salivary glands in mouth, fever, runny or stuffy nose and cough.
Measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, etc. are viral infectious disease affecting children up to 5 years with long-lasting adverse effects.
However, these diseases are preventable with vaccines as per the vaccination schedule given by World Health Organization.
- Molluscum contagiosum is viral infection of skin caused by the pox virus. It presents with boils with thick white fluid inside and looks like a pearl. The boils appear around the mouth, on face, genital area, back, etc. The boils are highly contagious and spread rapidly.
- Hand-foot-mouth disease presents with fever, cold, cough and boils on feet, hand and around the mouth.
- Conjunctivitis or pink eye occurs due to a viral infection of eye. Watering of eyes, sticky discharge, pain in eye due to bright light and irritation in eyes are common symptoms of viral conjunctivitis.
Treatment of viral diseases
Viral infections usually recover without medicines. Diseases caused by viral infections do not respond to antibiotics. Unless accompanied by a bacterial infection, antibiotics are not used to treat viral infections.
- Paracetamol is used to bring down the fever.
- A saline nasal spray, cough syrups are helpful in decreasing the discomforting respiratory symptoms.
- Honey soothes throat irritation and is helpful especially for toddlers.
- Inhaling steam or humidifiers in the room helps in reliving stuffy and dry nose.
- Consuming water boiled with tulsi leaves, mint leaves and ginger help reliving body ache and malaise.
Adequate rest, nutritious diet and hydration of the body help in managing a viral infection easily for your child.
Also read: Hand, Foot And Mouth Disease