Common symptoms of viral chest infections, such as bronchiolitis and viral pneumonia, include cough, fever, shortness of breath and rapid breathing, according to Mayo Clinic and WebMD. Other early symptoms of bronchiolitis are a runny, stuffy nose and wheezing, while later symptoms requiring medical attention include vomiting, lethargy, breathing too fast to eat or drink, and lips and fingernails turning blue, explains Mayo Clinic. Chills and chest pain when coughing or breathing are other symptoms of viral pneumonia, notes WebMD.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that causes people to feel very ill, and as of 2015, viruses cause almost one third of the pneumonia cases in the United States, explains WebMD. Influenza A and B viruses cause pneumonia, as does the respiratory syncytial virus, which is more prevalent in infants and children. The viruses travel in airborne fluid droplets, such as a sneeze produces, or by people touching contaminated surfaces, such as doorknobs, and then touching their mouths. Methods that doctors use to diagnose viral pneumonia include blood tests, X-rays and bodily fluids. Antibiotics cannot treat viral pneumonia, but doctors may prescribe antiviral medications.
Bronchioles are the tiny airways that branch off of the bronchi, the main breathing tubes in the lungs, explains Mayo Clinic. Bronchiolitis develops when a virus, typically RSV, infects the airways and causes inflammation and swelling. Mucus impedes the free flow of air to and from the lungs. RSV infections including bronchiolitis are common in winter, especially in children 2 years old or younger. Cold and flu viruses also cause bronchiolitis.