What is Viral Pneumonia?


Pneumonia is a respiratory infection that can be caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses. Depending on the cause, there are several types of pneumonia which are known to manifest in a variety of ways.

  • Bacterial Pneumonia – which is caused by certain bacteria, is considered to be the most serious and dangerous type.
  • Viral Pneumonia – can be caused by a variety of viruses, including over 200 that have been directly linked to this type of pneumonia.
  • Fungal Pneumonia – which is caused by different types of fungi.
  • Aspiration Pneumonia – is caused by breathing in particular airborne threats, specifically chemicals.
  • Hospital acquired Pneumonia – which usually affects patients with different conditions at the hospital, especially patients who are in the intensive care or using breathing machines.

Symptoms that characterize pneumonia are coughing, fever and difficulty breathing.  However, different types of pneumonia can cause unique symptoms, specific to the type of pneumonia diagnosed.

Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment of viral pneumonia is paramount when diagnosing this potentially life threatning condition.  The presence of a metaphorical tool belt at your disposal represents a clear and knowledgeable understanding of the disease, and which hammer best fits this nail.

What is Viral Pneumonia and what causes it, you ask?

Viral Pneumonia is a viral infection of the respiratory tract.  It can be caused by different viruses such as influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, herpes, varicella viruses, among others. There are over 200 known viruses that cause viral pneumonia.  Over 30% of the patients diagnosed with pneumonia are suffering from viral version of the disease.  Depending on the type of virus, the symptoms and treatment can vary.

  • Influenza A or B viruses – cause certain symptoms, along with characteristic respiratory symptoms, e.g. a headache, fever and muscle pain. This is considered to be the most common cause for viral pneumonia.
  • Respiratory syncytial virus – cause the characteristic respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath, dyspnea, tachypnea, productive coughing with yellow/green mucus.
  • Herpes or Varicella – is the least common cause for viral pneumonia. It is usually the cause for Viral Pneumonia among adults who are suffering from chickenpox.

What are the symptoms that you need to look out for?

  • A productive cough with yellow/green mucus
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Shaking (chills)

These are the most common symptoms which point to viral pneumonia.  As soon as you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms, it is essential to inform a doctor.  The doctor will decide future treatment of your condition.

How does Viral Pneumonia affect your respiratory tract?

The viruses that cause the disease are propelled airborne from an infected person while coughing or sneezing.  The viruses travel in drops of fluid through the air and if they reach your mouth, can start affecting airways, causing inflammation of the respiratory tract.

Is Viral Pneumonia treatable?

Pneumonia is a very treatable condition, especially when diagnosed in early stages.  This is why it is so important to be informed about the symptoms and report their presence to a doctor as quickly as possible. Depending on the type of virus that caused the illness, a doctor may or may not prescribe a countermeasure. Usually medication is prescribed when the cause is either influenza or respiratory syncytial virus. In most cases, there is no need for such prescriptions. Pneumonia requires a lot of rest, plenty of fluids and potentially some fever reducers (e.g. aspirin or ibuprofen).

What can you do to prevent Viral Pneumonia?

In order to prevent any type of pneumonia, you need to strengthen your immune system.  This requires eating  healthy, drinking plenty of water, and exercising.  Also, you should practice good hygiene, washing your hands as often as you can, especially after using public transportation or toilets. Keep a safe distance between you and someone who has been diagnosed.

Viral pneumonia is a dangerous, yet treatable condition. It is one of the most common respiratory infections among people. As soon as any of the aforementioned symptoms manifest, visit your doctor to make an informed decision when treating viral pneumonia.

Related: What is Giant Cell Pneumonia?


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