Viral inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia) – atypical progression
Updated: February 2020
Inflammation of the lungs is not always the same. Different symptoms may occur, depending on the pathogens. With bacterial inflammation of the lungs, symptoms such as high fever and coughing occur very quickly. With viral inflammation of the lungs, on the other hand, they develop slowly. Fever and chills rarely occur and are mild. This type of progression of viral inflammation of the lungs also is referred to as atypical pneumonia or ‘cold’ pneumonia.
Symptoms of viral inflammation of the lungs
Atypical pneumonia develops slowly. After several days you observe severe headaches and aching limbs. If fever occurs, it usually stays below 39 °C.
Other symptoms of inflammation of the lungs, such as coughing, chills, faster respiratory rates and palpitations, may occur but are less pronounced than with bacterial inflammation of the lungs.
Not only viruses can cause atypical pneumonia. Contagion with mycoplasma, chlamydia and legionella also may lead to an atypical progression of inflammation of the lungs, as the pathogens are absorbed by the immune cells and enter the interstitial tissue of the lungs.
Diagnosis of viral inflammation of the lungs
Since, in the case of viral inflammation of the lungs, an x-ray examination rarely leads to clear results, other methods of investigation are used. Urine and blood tests are used as diagnostic methods. The pathogens also can be detected by means of a DNA test of the sputum.
Causes of viral inflammation of the lungs
Viral inflammation of the lungs most commonly is caused by influenza (flu) viruses and other respiratory viruses. Contagion can be caused by a droplet infection.
Treatment of viral inflammation of the lungs
Viral inflammation of the lungs is treated only in exceptional cases. Usually, therapy involves alleviating the symptoms. Dry coughing can be alleviated using home remedies such as tea or inhalations. Painkillers are used to treat headaches and aching limbs. Bed rest is particularly important and those affected should take it easy and drink plenty of fluids.
Viral inflammation of the lungs can be prevented by strengthening the immune system through a healthy lifestyle and plenty of exercise.
High-risk groups, such as the elderly or people with chronic heart and lung diseases, can be vaccinated against influenza viruses.