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Viral pneumonia

  • Alternative Names

    Pneumonia - viral; "Walking pneumonia" - viral


    Antibiotics do not treat viral pneumonia. Medication only works against influenza pneumonia. These medications are called antivirals.

    Treatment may also involve:

    • Increased fluids
    • Oxygen
    • Use of humidified air

    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:

    • Are older than 65 years or a young child
    • Are unable to care for yourself at home, or are unable to eat or drink
    • Have another serious medical problem, such as a heart or kidney problem
    • Have been taking antibiotics at home and are not getting better
    • Have severe symptoms

    However, many people can be treated at home.

    You can take these steps at home:

    • Control your fever with aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen), or acetaminophen. DO NOT give aspirin to children.
    • Do not take cough medicines without first talking to your doctor. Cough medicines may make it harder for your body to cough up the extra sputum.
    • Drink plenty of fluids to help loosen secretions and bring up phlegm.
    • Get a lot of rest. Have someone else do household chores.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    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.

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if symptoms of viral pneumonia develop.