Viral infections are common among people of all ages but often seem to be concentrated in infants and children. Most childhood viral infections are not serious and include such diverse illnesses as colds, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhea, and fever with a rash. Some viral illnesses that cause more serious disease, such as measles, are less common now due to widespread immunization. Several types of viral infections that children can acquire are discussed in adult viral infections.
Generally, parents can tell whether their child is ill with a potentially serious infection and needs immediate medical care. This is particularly true for children beyond infancy. Many viral infections are so distinctive that a doctor can diagnose them based on their symptoms. A doctor usually does not need to have a laboratory identify the specific virus involved.
Most children with viral infections get better without treatment. Many viral infections result in fever and body aches or discomfort. Doctors sometimes treat these symptoms with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Aspirin is not given to children or adolescents with these symptoms because it increases the risk of Reye syndrome in those who have certain viral infections. Antibiotics cannot cure viral infections. However, there are antiviral drugs available for a few viral infections such as hepatitis, some herpesviruses, influenza, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).