What is Viral Pneumonia?
Viral Pneumonia is an inflammation, which is an irritation and swelling of the lungs caused by infection with a virus.
Viral Pneumonia Causes
Pneumonia is an infection of the lung. Pneumonia affects roughly 1 of 100 people annually. Viral pneumonia is caused by one of several viruses, which includes influenza, para influenza, adenovirus, rhinovirus, herpes simplex virus, respiratory syncytial virus, hantavirus, and cytomegalo-virus.
Most cases of viral pneumonia are mild and improve without treatment, but some cases are more serious and require hospitalization. People at risk for more serious viral pneumonia typically have impaired immune systems such as people with HIV, transplant patients, young children that have heart defects, elderly people, and those taking medications to suppress their immune systems in the treatment of autoimmune disorders.
Viral Pneumonia Treatment
Antibiotics are not effective in treating Viral Pneumonia. Some of the more serious disease forms mayn be treated with anti-viral medications. Other supportive care for viral pneumonia includes use of humidified air, increased fluids, and oxygen. Hospitalization can be necessary to prevent dehydration and to help the patient with breathing if the infection is serious.
Outlook and Prognosis
Most episodes of viral pneumonia improve without treatment within 1-3 weeks, but some episodes last longer and cause more serious symptoms requiring hospitalization.
Viral Pneumonia Symptoms
- Common or Hacking Cough
- Frequent Headaches
- Muscular stiffness and aching
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease:
- Clammy skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Joint stiffness
Exams and Tests
- Sputum culture
- Blood tests for antibodies to specific viruses
- Chest x-ray
- Open lung biopsy, which is only done in very serious illnesses when the diagnosis cannot be made from other sources
More serious infections can result in respiratory failure, liver failure and heart failure. Sometimes, bacterial infections occur during or just after viral pneumonia, which may lead to more serious forms of pneumonia, including lung disease.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your doctor or health care provider if symptoms of viral pneumonia develop.
Vaccines are available for influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus for people at high risk of these forms of viral pneumonia. A more serious form of pneumonia is bacterial pneumonia, which is also treatable.