Pneumonia - viral; "Walking pneumonia" - viral
Viral pneumonia is inflammation (irritation and swelling) of the lungs due to infection with a virus.
Viralpneumonia is more likely to occur in young children and older adults, because their bodies have a harder time fighting off the virus.
Viral pneumonia is most often caused by one of several viruses:
People who are at risk for more serious viral pneumonia often have a weakened immune system, including:
Symptoms of viral pneumonia often begin slowly and may not be severe at first.
The most common symptoms of pneumonia are:
Other symptoms include:
Persons with suspected pneumonia should have a complete medical evaluation, including a thorough physical exam and a chest x-ray -- especially since the physical exam may not always distinguish pneumonia from acute bronchitis or other respiratory infections.
Depending on the severity of illness, other tests may be done, including:
Antibiotics do not treat viral pneumonia. Medication only works against influenza pneumonia. These medications are called antivirals.
Treatment may also involve:
A hospital stay may be necessary to prevent dehydration and to help with breathing if the infection is serious.
You are more likely to be admitted to the hospital if you:
However, many people can be treated at home.
You can take these steps at home:
Most cases of viral pneumonia are mild and get better without treatment within 1 - 3 weeks, but some cases are more serious and require hospitalization.
More serious infections can result in respiratory failure, liver failure, and heart failure. Sometimes, bacterial infections occur during or just after viral pneumonia, which may lead to more serious forms of pneumonia.
Call your health care provider if symptoms of viral pneumonia develop.
Wash your hands often, especially after blowing your nose, going to the bathroom, diapering a baby, and before eating or preparing foods.
Don't smoke. Tobacco damages your lungs' ability to ward off infection.
Vaccines may help prevent pneumonia in children, the elderly, and people with diabetes, asthma, emphysema, HIV, cancer, or other chronic conditions.
If your immune system is weak, stay away from crowds. Ask visitors who have a cold to wear a mask.
Mandell LA, Wunderink RG, Anzueto A, et al. Infectious Diseases Society of America/American Thoracic Society consensus guidelines on the management of community-acquired pneumonia in adults. Clin Infect Dis. 2007;44:S27-S72.
Donowitz GR. Acute pneumonia. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 64.
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