Anti Viral FAQs Symptoms and Treatment.
What is a viral infection?
Viral infection is an inflammatory illness that is develops resulting from contact with a virus. Virus is an infectious agent that can only be reproduced within cells of an organism. Viruses can live in all kinds of organisms, from bacteria to people. In animals, infections cause an immune reaction, which most often leads to the elimination of the pathogen. An immune reaction can also be triggered by vaccines that give active acquired immunity against a specific viral infection. However, some of them, including HIV and the causative agents of viral hepatitis, manage to escape the immune system reaction, causing chronic disease.
How a viral infection is different from a bacterial infection?
The main difference between bacterial and viral pathogens is that they have very different sizes. Viruses are a thousand times smaller than bacteria and can even infect bacterial cells. Besides, bacteria have cells while viruses are non-cellular. Worth noting although, that the manifestation of both viral and bacterial infections can be quite similar and include inflammation, fever, and other symptoms.
Can viral infections be treated by antibiotics?
No. Antibiotics are not effective for virus elimination because they act only against bacteria and they are very different from viruses. Viruses are treated with antiviral formulations and the immune response achieved by vaccination.
How can I get a viral infection?
There are different viruses and viral infections and they can be obtained in different ways. But the majority of viruses are transmitted through the following paths:
– Fecal-oral, hand to mouth;
– Sexually transmitted;
– Direct eye contact;
– Saliva, blood, sperm, breast milk, and other body fluids;
Worth noting that not all viral infections are airborne. For instance, it’s usual for people to get common cold through droplets of saliva but HIV, hepatitis, herpes, and other viral infections are not transferred that way.
What are the symptoms of a viral infection?
The signs of virus development depend on the localization of the infection focus and can include:
– Fever or local temperature rise;
– In case of common cold or flu such symptoms as sore throat, nasal congestion, nasal discharges, sneezing, pain in the joints, and others occur;
– In herpes, the first symptoms are itching, and then bubble-like skin rash occurs at the site of infection. The most frequent localizations are lips and genitalia, but herpes zoster (shingles) can occur anywhere on the body.
– The symptoms of hepatitis of different types are yellowing of the skin and white of the eye, pain in the right side of the abdomen or upper abdomen in general, stool disorders, digestive disorders, and so on;
– Immune deficiency virus symptoms are frequent diseases, possible weight loss, frequent lip herpes occurrence, and others.
Is it possible to prevent viral infection?
It is possible to prevent getting infected with a viral pathogen through vaccination. However, vaccination is not suitable for all viruses. Currently, the following antiviral vaccines are available and considered life-saving:
– Hepatitis B vaccines;
– Haemophilus influenzae type B (anti-flu vaccine);
– Human papillomavirus vaccine;
– Vaccine against measles;
– Mumps and rubella vaccine;
– Vaccines for polio;
– Vaccines for rotavirus;
– Vaccine against rabies;
– Vaccines against chickenpox.
These are not all vaccines existing today. There are also vaccines against bacterial diseases but this article is dedicated to antiviral medicines and treatment methods so we do not list them here.
Besides vaccination, antiviral formulations can be used for avoidance of infection development. For instance, an individual with diagnosed HIV should use medications that suppress the virus so that their family members and especially sexual partners won’t get infected. The same method of prophylaxis is used for genital herpes – a person who has it should use medications to suppress the virus and not transmit it to their partners. However, this doesn’t work for all viruses.
How is a viral infection treated?
For virus treatment, antiviral medications and means to improve the immune system are utilized. In fact, no virus can be killed. Antiviral medications help only to suppress it to the lowest level so that a carrier won’t transfer it to others. But there are some viruses that do not have special medications for them so the treatment is based on the improvement of the immune response to the virus and helping the body fight an infection itself. Besides, the means to alleviate symptoms can be also used.
The examples of such diseases are common cold, Infectious mononucleosis, Burkitt's lymphoma, acute febrile pharyngitis, pharyngoconjunctival fever, epidemic keratoconjunctivitis, children's gastroenteritis, measles, post-infectious encephalomyelitis, rubella, and others.
How is virus diagnosed?
The main methods of viral infection diagnosis are a physical examination of a patient and blood tests. In some cases, a diagnosis is made even without the blood tests because the symptoms of the disease are very characteristic and cannot be confused with anything else.
Is it true that women have viral infections more frequently than men?
Although a viral infection can be acquired by anyone regardless of their sex, women’s organism in many aspects is weaker than men’s in terms of immune protection which results in more frequent infestation with viral infections and their flare-ups. The degree of opposition to infection is influenced by physical health, mental factors, and endocrine background. Women are usually physically weaker and less trained; they are more often subjected to stress, fluctuations in hormonal levels and have special physiological periods of reduced immunity – pregnancy and childbirth. Viral infections in women can manifest with all usual symptoms or have a latent form, i.e. be hidden most of the time and flare up from time to time. The hidden viruses are especially dangerous when planning pregnancy and carrying a baby because they can exist without any symptoms but seriously harm an unborn baby.
Can I take antiviral drugs as prophylaxis?
Yes. Antiviral medications can be taken to prevent infestation with a certain viral infection but only if your doctor prescribes this therapy. For instance, a person with recurring genital herpes can use antivirals to prevent the flare-ups of the disease but their partners do not need to take the pills as prophylaxis. But doctors who work with viral patients sometimes use antiviral medications to prevent getting an infection.
Can pregnant women take antiviral drugs?
Viral infections can severely harm the unborn baby so in the first symptoms of a viral infection a future mom must go to her doctor and get precise instructions on how she should cope with the disease.
It is highly not recommended to take any medications during the first three months of pregnancy but if the potential benefit is greater than the risks a physician can prescribe you a certain therapeutic treatment. In general, it is preferable to alleviate the symptoms with locally-acting medications such as nasal sprays, throat sprays, ointments, gels, eye drops, and so on rather than medications that are taken orally or injected. It is so because their effects on the body are more localized than from the drugs with systemic effects.
Can antiviral medicines be given to kids?
Yes, they can be given to kids but the dosages or treatment course durations can differ from the ones for adults. Thus, if you believe that your kid has a viral infection, you should take them to a pediatrician for a diagnosis and prescription of the therapy.
What are the most effective antiviral medicines?
The types of antivirals differ by the types of viruses they are used to treat. Here we list the most popular formulations by type of viral infection:
– Zovirax or Acyclovir by Cipla, Valtrex, Famciclovir for herpes including lip and genital herpes, shingles, etc.
– Stavudine, Efavirenz, Retrovir (Zidovudine), Lamivudine for HIV and AIDS treatment;
– Amantadine for flu treatment;
– Lamivudine, Adefovir (Hepsera) for hepatitis B;
– Rebetol (Ribavirin), Hepcvir (Sofosbuvir), Hepcinat (Sovaldi), Copegus (Ribavirin) for hepatitis C.
What are contraindications for antiviral drugs use?
The contraindications for medications use differ but there are common ones such as:
– Hypersensitivity or allergy to the main components;
– Most antivirals are contraindicated for pregnant women but their use is admissible if a doctor believes that the benefits are greater than the risks;
– Young age (you should consult a pediatrician if you treat a viral infection in your kid);
– Severe liver or kidney diseases.
What adverse effects can antiviral medicines cause?
– Antivirals used for herpes can cause: headache, nausea, abdominal discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea;
– HIV and AIDS medications can cause peripheral neuropathy, sleep impairment, lightheadedness, headaches, anxiety, fatigue, confusion, and memory and concentration problems, and depression.
– Hepatitis B and C medications can cause dizziness, weakness, insomnia, asthenia, depression, irritability, anxiety, emotional lability, nervousness, agitation, aggressive behavior, confusion, blood tension fluctuations, and others.
The common adverse effect that occurs due to the increased sensitivity to a certain drug is an allergy that is manifested in skin rash, severe digestive disorders, swelling, itching, and so on.
If you have an allergy to the medication you use you must consult your physician and he or she will decide whether the medication needs replacement in your therapy.