Viral pneumonia involves infection of the lungs that is triggered by a virus. The condition can be triggered other factors as well including fungus, bacteria or chemicals.
Signs and symptoms of viral pneumonia
The indications of viral pneumonia are strikingly similar to the other forms of pneumonia, but might be less severe than the bacterial cases. The typical symptoms include the following:
- Cough that might be productive
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or pain while breathing deeply or coughing
- Fatigue or exhaustion
- Appetite loss
The indications of viral pneumonia can start similar to flu such as weakness, fever, dry cough and body aches. Within a span of a few days, it can progress to difficulty breathing, high fever and productive and sore cough. Even though the course of the condition is not the same in all cases, this is quite common in most cases.
Viral pneumonia often develops as a complication of less serious viral infections such as upper respiratory infection or common cold. This form of pneumonia is considered less severe than the other types and eventually resolves in 1-3 weeks.
Some types of viral pneumonia particularly those triggered by the flu virus can be serious and even deadly. There is still no clear evidence that the lungs are filling with fluid and can rapidly lead to severe shortness of breath or even gasping for air.
Those who are at highest risk for this form of viral pneumonia include those who have chronic heart and lung issues as well as pregnant women.
Antibiotics are not useful against viral pneumonia. In most circumstances, the treatment involves managing the symptoms and allowing the virus to run its course. If there is proof that an individual has developed the bacterial type, the doctor might prescribe antibiotics. In some cases, the doctor might prescribe antiviral medications to manage the condition.
Other measures to manage the condition include the following:
- Increase the intake of fluids to loosen up the mucus in the lungs so that it can be coughed up more effectively as well as keeping the body hydrated for better recovery.
- Encourage the individual to rest as much as possible.
- Provide the individual with over-the-counter pain medications or fever reducers if needed.
- Avoid using cough medications unless specially instructed by the doctor. Suppressing the cough will only prevent the mucus in the lungs from being expelled which can actually make the pneumonia worse.
The risk for acquiring viral pneumonia is reduced by getting the flu vaccine yearly, observing proper flu and cold prevention practices as well as paying close attention to the symptoms.
Those who face a higher risk should consult a doctor regarding vaccination against pneumonia if it is suitable or not.