Is Pneumonia a Viral Infection?

Pneumonia is a respiratory infection. It occurs due to an infection in one or both the lungs. Seen in older adults, children and people suffering from chronic disorders related to lungs and respiration are susceptible to pneumonia. That said the disease can afflict pretty much anyone. There are about thirty different and diverse causes of pneumonia. Symptoms are equally varied.

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Symptoms of pneumonia range from very severe to mild and negligible. Some of the main symptoms of pneumonia are as follow-

1) Coughing- uncontrollable and excessive coughing could be sign of pneumonia.          Cough is accompanied by yellowish green mucous or phlegm.

2) A mild or high fever.

3) Chills, shuddering and shivering.

4) A drastic loss of stamina. Experiencing breathlessness from minor exertion.

5) Chest pains and sharp convulsions in the chest every time you cough.

6) Headache

7) Listlessness, tiredness, loss of energy and fatigue.

8) Confusion and disorientation, especially among the elderly.

9) Loss of appetite.

Pneumonia can be either viral, bacterial. Depending on the type of pneumonia, certain symptoms can vary

1) In bacterial pneumonia, your temperature can rise as high as 105 degrees F. This pneumonia causes excessive sweating, increased heart rate, raspy breathing and spikes the pulse rate. Lips and nail beds may have a bluish color due to lack of oxygen in the blood. A patient’s mental state may be confused or delirious.

2) The initial symptoms of viral pneumonia are the same as influenza symptoms: fever, a dry cough, headache, muscle pain, and weakness. Within 12 to 36 hours, there is increasing breathlessness; the cough becomes worse and produces a small amount of mucus. There may be a high fever and there may be blueness of the lips.

Other type of pneumonia is the one caused by mycoplasma organisms. These organisms are not viruses or bacteria, but have characteristics of both. Often observed among children or young adults and teenagers, this type of pneumonia is not very intense and can be easily treated and contained. Tuberculosis and Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) can afflict those with suppressed immune systems, such as those who have AIDS. As a matter of fact, PCP can be one of the first signs of illness in people with AIDS.

Less common types of pneumonia can also be serious.

Pneumonia is caused by several things. Some of them are inhalation of dust, fine particles, breathing polluted air, certain types of gas, fungi and others.

The risk of contracting pneumonia goes up if one or many of the following factors apply to you- Respiratory infections caused due to a viral influence

Difficulty swallowing (due to stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or other neurological conditions)

  • Chronic lung diseases
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Other serious illnesses, such as heart disease, liver cirrhosis, or diabetes
  • Living in a nursing facility
  • Impaired consciousness (loss of brain function due to dementia, stroke, or other neurologic conditions)
  • Recent surgery or trauma
  • Having a weakened immune system due to illness, certain medications, and autoimmune disorders

Pneumonia can often be hard to detect despite stark symptoms because of its similarity to cold and flu. To determine whether or not you really have pneumonia the doctor may ask you regarding the duration and type of symptoms, your recent travel history and interactions, your smoking history, contact with animals, and your recent medical history, to name a few.

During a physical exam, if there is bubbling of chest during inhalation and prominent wheezing, your doctor may suspect pneumonia. Chest X-rays can be used to determine if infection is present in your lungs. However, chest X-rays won’t show your type of pneumonia. Blood tests can provide a better picture of the type of pneumonia. Also, blood tests are necessary to see if the infection is in your bloodstream.

Other tests like CT scans, testing on sputum samples, bronchoscopy are also conducted to diagnose pneumonia.

Pneumonia treatments depend on the type and severity. If mild, it can even be treated at home by observing some basic restrictions.

Generally, medication is prescribed and a follow-up check is advised to treat pneumonia. Improvements in health can be observed within four days of starting medication, in most cases.

In case of viral pneumonia, antiviral drugs are prescribed. This is because antibiotics are useless and ineffective in treating a viral condition. Viral pneumonia can take up to three weeks to cure.

Other ways to treat pneumonia could be, drinking plenty of water and partaking of many fluids, get lots of chores, taking cough medication only if prescribed, and taking general care of oneself.

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