Viral Lung Infections

Viral Lung Infections

Viral Lung Infections
Viral lung infections include acute bronchitis, viral pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). These viral lung infections usually begin as a respiratory virus that spreads to the lungs. Chest pain, chronic coughing, fever and fatigue are common with bronchitis. This infection cannot be treated with antibiotics. Viral pneumonia presents with a host of symptoms including coughing, fatigue, fever, aches and pains, and GI symptoms. While antibiotics are not indicated for pneumonia, some antiviral medications can help. Infants can develop both bronchiolitis and RSV at a young age, causing coughing and wheezing.

Recently Answered

  • 1 Answer
    AIntermountain Registered Dietitians, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    How you can prevent RSV infection in your baby:
    • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before touching your baby, and ask others to do the same.
    • Keep people who have colds away from your baby, including brothers and sisters. Parents or other caregivers who feel ill should wear a mask and refrain from kissing the baby.
    • Don’t smoke near the baby, because exposure to tobacco smoke increases the severity of an RSV infection.
    • Avoid taking your baby to crowded locations, such as shopping malls.
    • Ask your baby’s doctor about a medication that can help prevent your baby from getting severe RSV disease.
  • 1 Answer
    AIntermountain Registered Dietitians, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    How RSV is spread to babies:
    • By touching, kissing, or shaking hands with an infected person
    • Through the air by sneezing or coughing
    • From countertops, used tissues, towels, sheets, blankets, or toys (because RSV can live on these things for several hours)
    • In crowded households and daycare centers
  • 1 Answer
    AIntermountain Registered Dietitians, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    RSV occurs in seasonal outbreaks, usually from fall to spring in most areas of the United States. However, a baby can catch RSV any time of the year.
  • 1 Answer
    AIntermountain Registered Dietitians, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus, a common virus that affects people of all ages. Most of the time, RSV causes only cold-like symptoms in infants and children. However, in premature infants or infants with lung problems, RSV infections can be a bigger problem.

    They can result in serious lung disease in premature babies, sometimes requiring or prolonging hospitalization. Premature babies are most affected because their lungs have not yet fully developed. These babies also have not yet received natural virus-fighting substances from their mothers.
  • 1 Answer
    For upper respiratory infections, such as sore throats, ear infections, sinus infections, colds and bronchitis, try the following:
    • get plenty of rest
    • drink plenty of fluids
    • use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer
    • avoid smoking, second-hand smoke, and other pollutants (airborne chemicals or irritants)
    • take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain or fever (do not give aspirin to a child)
    For children and adults, over-the-counter pain relievers, decongestants and saline nasal sprays may help relieve some symptoms. Remember, always use over-the-counter products as directed. Many over-the-counter products are not recommended for children younger than certain ages.
    Over-the-counter medicines may help relieve symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, fever and aches, but they do not shorten the length of time you or your child is sick.

    The presence of the CDC logo and CDC content on this page should not be construed to imply endorsement by the US Government of any commercial products or services, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. The mark “CDC” is licensed under authority of the PHS.
  • 1 Answer
    A Dr. Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, Pediatrics, answered

    In newborns and infants, RSV can migrate into the lungs and cause bronchiolitis, an inflammation and infection of the tiny airways of the lungs. It can cause very serious trouble breathing and wheezing, especially in babies who were born prematurely or who have heart or lung disease. For these high-risk babies there is a shot available called palivizumab (Synagis) to help protect them from catching RSV. It is given once a month from October through April, when RSV is most prevalent.

    Ask your pediatrician if your infant qualifies. There is no medication to treat RSV, only symptomatic care such as suctioning the nasal congestion. Even asthma medications that are often used to treat wheezing caused by asthma rarely will help wheezing from RSV. If your infant is having trouble breathing, she may need to be hospitalized for oxygen, breathing treatments, or fluids.

  • 1 Answer
    A Dr. Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, Pediatrics, answered
    RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus. In older children and adults it causes a cold with a really runny, goopy nose—the one you get almost every winter. In young children, the infection can range from minor cold symptoms to serious lung problems, usually depending on their age and previous medical history (such as premature birth, heart disease, or lung disease). RSV is most common during the winter.
  • 4 Answers
    A Dr. James Fortenberry, MD, Pediatrics, answered on behalf of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

    Call 911 or your local ambulance service right away if your baby:

    - Is so weak and tired that he hardly responds to you

    - Is working very hard to breathe or finds it hard to take a breath.

    - Grunts when he breathes.

    - Has chest retractions (skin pulling in around the ribs and chest when breathing).

    - Has a blue or dark purple color to the nail beds, lips or gums.

    - Stops breathing for more than 10 seconds.

    - Cannot speak while trying to breathe.

    - Has any breathing problem that needs care right away.


    Call your baby’s pediatrician if your baby:

    Does not smile or show interest in play for at least a few minutes during a four-hour period.

    Wheezes or breathes harder than he did when he was seen by the pediatrician.

    Is unable to breathe and suck at the same time or chokes when he sucks.

    Has any fever and is less than 3 months old, or has a fever lasting longer than three days in older babies.

    Cannot be calmed for at least a few minutes each hour using methods that usually work for your baby, such as holding, rocking, pacifiers or soothing talk.


    Also call the pediatrician if you:

    See signs of dehydration (drying out):

    - No urine in six to eight hours in a baby less than 1 year of age

    - No urine in more than eight hours in a baby or child older than 1 year of age

    - No tears when crying

    - Sunken eyes

    - Dry lips and mouth

    Have any questions or concerns about how your baby looks or feels.
    See All 4 Answers
  • 1 Answer
    A Dr. James Fortenberry, MD, Pediatrics, answered on behalf of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

    For your baby’s care at home:

    - Give your baby plenty of rest. Most do not feel well enough to be very active.

    - Give your baby plenty to drink.

    - Avoid cigarette smoke and odor around your baby.

    - Give acetaminophen (Tylenol® or other less costly store brand) if advised by your baby’s pediatrician to control fever. Follow the directions on the box carefully or ask your pediatrician how much medicine to give.

    - Do not give your baby more than 5 doses of acetaminophen in a 24-hour period.

    - Do not give acetaminophen to babies less than 3 months of age without talking with your child's pediatrician.

    - Suction the nose or mouth with a bulb syringe as needed, especially before a feeding. This helps keep your baby from coughing and gagging during his feeding.

    - Salt water (saline) drops may be used prior to suctioning the nose.

    - Give cough and cold medicines only as advised by your baby’s pediatrician. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

    - For children less than 6 years of age – cough and cold medicines usually do not work well in babies and young toddlers. They also can cause serious side effects. Do not use them if your child is less than 6 years old unless your pediatrician tells you to.

    - Do not give a child less than 6 years old any medicine that is made for children over the age of 6.

    - Many brands of cough and cold medicines have the same kinds of ingredients. Many have unnecessary ingredients. Using more than 1 brand or mixing brands can cause serious overdose and harm in your baby. Use these medicines only as directed by your baby’s pediatrician.

    - Washing your hands often and well can help stop germs from spreading to others.

    Your baby can return to daycare as soon as your pediatrician advises. This is usually about 24 hours after the fever is gone without the need of medicines for fever control.
  • 1 Answer
    A Dr. James Fortenberry, MD, Pediatrics, answered on behalf of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

     If your baby is admitted to the hospital:

    • Your baby’s temperature, heart rate, and breathing will be monitored. Your child’s breathing will be checked to help decide whether he needs oxygen. A machine called a pulse oximeter may be used to measure his or her oxygen levels.

    • Our staff may use suction devices to keep his nose clear of mucus.

    • You will need to learn how to use the bulb suction and help with your baby’s care.

    • Your baby may be given a trial breathing treatment. If the treatment helps, it will be given regularly. If it does not help, no more breathing treatments will be given.

    • Once your baby starts improving, his care team will help you learn how to take care of him at home.

    • Your baby may be placed in "Isolation" in case he has something contagious (catchy). This means our staff will take extra measures to keep germs from spreading. Staff may wear masks, gowns or gloves when caring for your baby.

    • Washing your hands often and well can also help keep germs from spreading to others.

    You can plan on going home when:

    • Your baby is breathing slower and easier.

    • Your baby is eating well.

    • Any medicines, if still needed, can be given at home.

    • You and your baby’s caretakers can use a bulb suction to keep his nose and mouth clear.

    • You and your baby’s pediatrician feel that he is ready for discharge.