Viral Pneumonia: Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, Investigations, Treatment

Pneumonia is the inflammation of the alveoli or the air sacs of the lungs. It is a very serious disease and commonly affects children and aged individuals. If the cause of the pneumonia is a virus, then it is known as viral pneumonia. The symptoms include: cough, cold, fever and chest pain. Treatment comprises of rest, pain killers, fluids, humidifiers and in some cases antiviral medications.

Causes of Viral Pneumonia

Viral Pneumonia

Young children and older individuals are at a higher risk to develop this disease, as their immune system is weak and cannot fight the virus efficiently.

Viral Pneumonia Is Commonly Caused By Many Viruses Such As:

  • Adenovirus
  • Influenza
  • Rhinoviruses


  • Coronaviruses
  • Parainfluenza virus
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Risk Factors for Viral Pneumonia

There are certain individuals or conditions which puts a person at a higher risk for developing viral pneumonia, such as:

  • Premature babies.
  • Children who are suffering from heart and lung problems.
  • Individuals having HIV infection.
  • Individuals who are suffering from cancer and as a result are receiving chemotherapy….and also those medications which make the immune system weak.
  • Individuals who have had organ transplants.

Signs and Symptoms of Viral Pneumonia

  • Chest pain is present which can be sharp or stabbing in nature, especially if the pneumonia/infection is severe.
  • Coughing is present and patient may also cough up mucus which could be blood tinged.
  • Fever is present.
  • Patient has shaking chills.
  • Difficulty in breathing, especially when doing physical activities.
  • Mental confusion can be present in older people.
  • There is a lot of sweating with clammy skin.
  • Patient may also experience headache.
  • Patient has no appetite; feels weak and lethargic.

Serious Symptoms/Factors Requiring Medical Attention And Hospital Stay Are Follows:

  • If the patient is over 65 years of age and is having mental confusion.
  • Patient is experiencing extreme shortness of breath and requires assistance with breathing.
  • Rapid drop in blood pressure.
  • Patient has prior medical conditions such as heart failure, kidney problems and COPD.

Investigations for Viral Pneumonia

  • Complete physical exam.
  • Chest x-ray helps in differentiating pneumonia from acute bronchitis and other respiratory infections.
  • CT scan of the chest.
  • Complete blood count (CBC).
  • Blood cultures and tests to detect the type of virus.
  • Sputum culture.
  • Bronchoscopy is rarely required.
  • Nasal swab test is done to check for flu viruses.
  • Open lung biopsy is rarely done and that too for very serious medical conditions and when a conclusive diagnosis cannot be reached by other tests.

Treatment for Viral Pneumonia

The aim of treatment is to alleviate the symptoms and to get rid of the infection.

  • Usually hospital stay is not required and the patient gets better with rest and medications at home.
  • If the patient is dehydrated and the infection is serious, then only a hospital stay is warranted.
  • Antibiotics are not required for viral pneumonia. There are antiviral medications available, but they are effective only against influenza pneumonia and herpes family of viruses.
  • Some of the antivirals which are given include: Amantadine, rimantadine, ribavirin, oseltamivir, zanamivir, foscarnet, cidofovir and acyclovir.
  • NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, help in alleviating fever and body pains.
  • Pain medications are also given to relieve chest pain.
  • Cough medications are given for relief from cough.
  • Patient should rest more.
  • Patient should make sure to drink lots of fluids throughout the day.
  • Humidifiers should be used, especially at nights.
  • Corticosteroid medicines are also used, though their use is debatable.

Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 23, 2019

Recent Posts

Related Posts