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Alternative namesPneumonia - viral
DefinitionViral pneumonia is an inflammation (irritation and swelling with presence of extra immune cells) of the lungs caused by infection with a virus. See also respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza .
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Pneumonia is an infection of the lung that affects 1 out of 100 people annually. Viral pneumonia can be caused by one of several viruses, including influenza, parainfluenza, adenovirus, rhinovirus, herpes simplex virus, respiratory syncytial virus, hantavirus, and cytomegalovirus.
Most cases of viral pneumonia are mild and get better without treatment, but some cases are more serious and require hospitalization. People at risk for more serious viral pneumonia typically have impaired immune systems and include HIV patients, transplant patients, young children (especially those with heart defects), the elderly, and people taking medications such as steroids to suppress their immune systems to treat autoimmune disorders.
Signs and tests
TreatmentAntibiotics are not effective in treating viral pneumonia. Some of the more serious forms can be treated with antiviral medications. Other supportive care for viral pneumonia includes use of humidified air, increased fluids, and oxygen.. Hospitalization may be necessary to prevent dehydration and to help with breathing if the infection is serious.
Expectations (prognosis)Most episodes of viral pneumonia improve without treatment within 1-3 weeks, but some episodes last longer and cause more serious symptoms requiring hospitalization.
More serious infections can result in respiratory failure, liver failure, and heart failure. Sometimes bacterial infections begin during or just after viral pneumonia that can cause more serious forms of pneumonia.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if symptoms of viral pneumonia develop.
PreventionVaccines are available for influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus for people at high risk of these forms of viral pneumonia.
Update Date: 7/30/2002Christopher Parsons, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT