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How to Treat a Viral Infection: March 10, 2019

The bad news is, it can happen anywhere. Whether you’re at work or on vacation, health experts say you’re always at risk for catching a virus. “The healthier you are, the less reactivity you have to viral illnesses,” said Cynthia Reichelt, an advanced provider registered nurse with Lee Health Convenient Care.

It’s important to recognize the symptoms early and start treatment. “Less is more, natural is best, hydration is key,” said Reichelt.

The average cold can last between seven and 14 days. With a viral infection, you will generally start to feel symptoms immediately. Symptoms can include fever, sneezing, runny nose, and sore throat. “It’s got an inflammatory process going on, it has the infection that’s viral that your body is trying to make antibodies to, and you are dehydrating with a fever,” she said.

Which is why it’s important to hydrate every hour. And while rest is important, she encourages patients to get up and walk, take deep breaths, and get some movement throughout the day. “We want to lay in the bed, we want to take a nap, we don’t want to get up, guess what happens, the kidneys don’t flush, we don’t breathe well, we get pneumonia, and we get a secondary sickness,” said Reichelt.

It’s also important not to over treat the virus—instead, focus on managing the symptoms with natural remedies or over the counter medicines. “It’s always appropriate to seek somebody to give you an evaluation because we can see things you can’t,” she said.

If the infection is viral, you should start to improve by day five. But if the infection is bacterial, the symptoms will progressively get worse—and may require an antibiotic. Recognizing the symptoms and starting early treatment can help to fight a viral infection.

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