Symptoms of a viral infection include fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea and fever, states WebMD. Individuals suffering from a viral infection may also experience sneezing, coughing, inflammation and cramping while the body works to eliminate the infection.
Viral infections are caused by microbes and often spread through contact with contaminated surfaces or infected people, notes WebMD. People can contract a viral infection when exposed to coughing and sneezing of an infected individual or through sexual contact and kissing. Pets, livestock and insects infected with a virus can also spread the infection. Some people contract a viral infection from contaminated food, water and surfaces.
Acute viral infections commonly last just a few days, while chronic infections can cause symptoms for weeks, months or a lifetime, according to WebMD. Latent viral infections do not always produce symptoms right away but can reactivate for months and years. Some viral infections can also lead to mild, moderate or severe conditions and diseases.
Although antibiotic treatment is commonly used to treat bacterial infections, these medications have proved to be ineffective for most viral infections, explains WebMD. Instead, physicians use preventative methods, such as vaccines, to eliminate and decrease the risk and symptoms of viral infections. Vaccines have reduced many cases of viral diseases such as chickenpox, measles and polio.