A viral illness is the name given to an infection caused by a germ known as a virus. There are many different viruses that can cause infection in children, and viruses can spread easily within families and between children when they are in close contact with each other. Viral infections are the most common cause of illness in children, and healthy children can have up to 12 viral illnesses a year in the first few years of life. Most children recover fully within a week.
Signs and symptoms
Fever (high temperature) is the most common symptom but your child may also have:
- runny nose
- cough or sneezing
- increased tiredness
- eating or drinking less
- vomiting and/or diarrhoea
How is it diagnosed?
A doctor can usually diagnose a viral illness by examining your child. Tests are not needed unless your child is very unwell.
What is the treatment?
Viral infections cannot be treated by antibiotics.
If your child seems miserable or is in pain, Paracetamol (Panadol) and/or Nurofen (Ibuprofen) may help them feel more comfortable. Follow the instructions on the bottle for the correct dose for your child.
Care at home
- keep up your child’s fluids (little sips more often may help)
- encourage your child to rest
- keep your child home from school or day-care until the fever (high temperature) settles and they feel well