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Viral pneumonia

  • Alternative Names

    Pneumonia - viral; "Walking pneumonia" - viral


    Symptoms of viral pneumonia often begin slowly and may not be severe at first.

    The most common symptoms of pneumonia are:

    • Cough (with some pneumonias you may cough up mucus, or even bloody mucus)
    • Fever, which may be mild or high
    • Shaking chills
    • Shortness of breath (may only occur when you climb stairs)

    Other symptoms include:

    • Confusion, especially in older people
    • Excessive sweating and clammy skin
    • Headache
    • Loss of appetite, low energy, and fatigue
    • Sharp or stabbing chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or cough
    • Fatigue

    Signs and tests

    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:

    • Complete blood count (CBC)
    • CT scan of the chest
    • Blood cultures
    • Blood tests to diagnose specific viruses
    • Bronchoscopy (rarely needed)
    • Open lung biopsy (only done in very serious illnesses when the diagnosis cannot be made from other sources)
    • Sputum culture