Minor lung infections are usually viral, which means the body must fight the virus with support from over-the-counter medications and rest, according to HowStuffWorks. Bronchitis is a type of viral lung infection.
There are ways a person can support the body as it fights a viral lung infection, including resting, drinking extra water, getting fresh air and staying warm, explains HowStuffWorks. Over-the-counter medications such as decongestants, cough remedies and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may also help. Doctors usually do not prescribe antibiotics for lung infections unless bacteria is the cause, as the body may develop a resistance to the medication.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that is usually a bacterial infection, and it is serious, so hospitalization may be necessary, states HowStuffWorks. Since pneumonia is due to a bacteria, doctors prescribe antibiotics such as erythromycin, amoxicillin, roxithromycin and doxycycline.
Antibiotics usually have a high rate of success when treating pneumonia, notes WebMD. The sooner treatment begins, the higher the rate of success. In certain cases, if antibiotics do not treat the infection, a person may require hospitalization. Others who may require hospitalization for pneumonia include the elderly, those who have conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, have chest pain or those who cannot care for themselves. Additionally, those who have severe illnesses and those who cannot keep food down may also require hospitalization for pneumonia.
Another type of lung infection is acute respiratory infection, also caused by a virus, states Healthline. Although it cannot be cured, the symptoms can be treated and secondary infections prevented. If it goes untreated, it can lead to respiratory or congestive heart failure. Symptoms include congestion, cough, sore throat, body aches and difficulty breathing. The best way to treat this condition is to prevent it with good hygiene and a diet rich in vitamin C.
Upper respiratory tract infections that include the lungs and trachea often resolve on their own with the help of the body's immune system, says MedicineNet.com. However, sometimes the condition can worsen, moving from a cough and sore throat to difficulty breathing and swallowing. If this happens, it can lead to hypoxia or lack of oxygen, dehydration, confusion and heart disease. An individual needs to see a doctor if an upper respiratory tract lasts longer than a few weeks.