Medical Q&As

Viral infection - explain?

My 18-month-old child is suffering a viral infection around the throat area. Any advice or can you explain viral infection?

Viral infection of the throat are classified as infections of the upper respiratory tract and these infections account for at least one fifth of all consultations with the GP. In other words they are extremely common. Viral infections tend to be self-limiting, which means that they run their course and on average tend to run a course of approximately seven days. Such infections are impervious to antibiotics therefore there is little point in using such drugs. However, some times a bacterial infection can develop while the child is infected with a virus in which case antibiotics may be appropriate. The standard approach to managing viral infection is to treat it symptomatically, which means that you treat the symptoms. Paracetamol is the most commonly used drug because it is very effective in reducing temperature and also has a pain relieving effect, which can be very useful in alleviating the aches and pains that are an integral part of viral infection. Viral infection is essential for the child in relation to strengthening its immune system because immunity to disease is acquired through the challenge of infection. You will probably find that over the next couple of years that the incidence of viral infection in your child will diminish because the child will have developed antibodies against a wide range of common childhood viruses and will be able to repel such infections. Viral infection in childhood can be considered to be a normal part of growing up.