Pneumonia Symptoms

Viral Pneumonia Diagnosis and Treatment

Viral pneumonia diagnosis is determined by finding traces of bacteria and a dominance of monocytes on sputum smears and by the absence of a likely bacterial pathogen. Identification of the virus is usually not as easy but is important during community outbreaks, among very ill patients and for those infected with treatable viruses. Exanthematous viral infections (eg measles, varicella or herpes) that have been complicated by pneumonia could be diagnosed on the basis of other connected clinical observations including the rash. A proper diagnosis of most respiratory infections requires samples of the virus from throat washings or tissue, biopsy specimens or serologic assays and from identification of typical inclusions in cytopathology. Most hospitals do not provide facilities for viral culture. The diagnosis of influenza is determined by the presence of typical symptoms during an outbreak of the disease and fluorescent antibody stain of respiratory secretions or serologic assays of acute and convalescent sera.

Your temperature, heart rate and blood pressure will be checked by the doctor. A small clamp, similar to a clothes pin would be put on your finger to verify your blood oxygen level. The doctor may listen to your heart and lungs to ascertain the cause of your symptoms and the severity of the ailment. If pneumonia is suspected, a chest x-ray will be recommended. Excluding special cases, blood tests are usually not helpful in diagnosis of pneumonia.

  • Influenza A and B can normally be diagnosed clinically as in the symptoms are indicative of the disease- headache, fever, body ache, fatigue, runny nose and cough. Lab tests are not required to confirm diagnosis, but secretions from the nose may be tested to help identify the organism.

  • Varicella pneumonia which may occur during An outbreak of chicken pox, is also diagnosed clinically.

  • If the doctor suspects respiratory synctial virus (RSV), a swab of nose secretions can tested in the laboratory. This virus is particularly aggressive in infants and children and therefore they may be tested for RSV.

  • As Adenovirus and parainfluenza are unlikely to cause life-threatening disease, tests to confirm their presence are rarely conducted.

Viral Pneumonia Treatment

For lung infections resulting from herpes simplex, herpes zoster, or varicella (chickenpox) Acyclovir 5 to 10mg/kg q 8 hr for adults and 250 to 500mg/m2BSA q 8 h for children is advocated. Immune globulin (IV immune globulin or CMV immune globulin) and ganciclovir 5 mg/kg IV bid may be advised to treat CMV pneumonia in organ transplant recipients. But for patients with AIDS, this therapy has little documented benefit.

Certain influenza patients develop superimposed bacterial infections that may need to be treated with antibiotics. Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus are the main pathogens encountered in this condition. The rarer pathogens which could also infect influenza patients include Neisseria meningitides and Haemophilus influenzae, group A -hemolytic streptococci.

The prognosis largely depends on the patientís age, the causative organism and associated diseases. The course of treatment is determined after identification of the pathogen.

  • In case you happen to be diagnosed with viral pneumonia, plenty of rest and abundant fluids would help speed up your recovery.

  • Exerting yourself when ill with a viral infection could only lower the response of the immune system in fighting the disease and could even risk a relapse of the disease.

  • Although over the counter medicines to combat fever, body aches and cough may be used, you would still need plenty of rest in order to recuperate. Medicines alone will not suffice to cure you of the disease. The energy required to fight the infection can only be obtained by adequate rest and proper nutrition.

  • If the doctor suspects the pneumonia to be caused by the influenza virus, an anti-flu medicine to be taken within 36 hrs of the infection could be prescribed. There are 4 drugs available rimantadine (Flumadine), oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and amantadine (Symadine) which are capsules. Also available is Zanamivir (Relenza) that can be inhaled directly into the lungs.

  • Varicella pneumonia is quite serious and would require to be treated with acyclovir (Zovirax). This drug can either be taken by mouth or if the patient is seriously ill and in hospital, may be administered by IV.

  • Respiratory syncytial virus needs to be treated only for its symptoms. If the patient has been admitted to the hospital, ribivarin (Rebetol) may be used to treat the infection.

  • Adenovirus and parainfluenza virus pneumonia is also treated to provide relief from the symptoms.

  • As the lungs may have got a little weak, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to prevent the patient from developing a bacterial pneumonia.

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