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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

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Viral Pneumonia

Next Steps


  • If you are treated at home, your doctor will probably ask you to return in one to four weeks to be checked.
  • You may need a repeat chest X-ray when your symptoms have improved. Because some types of pneumonia can look like cancer, a second X-ray will prove that it is not.

Prevention of Viral Pneumonia

Germs are spread both by aerosolized droplets that you breathe in (such as from a sneeze), and through body fluids left on surfaces like counter tops and door handles. If you avoid people who are coughing or sneezing, and wash your hands frequently, you can reduce your chances of catching a virus.

Fluids and rest during bouts of the common cold can help prevent progression to pneumonia.

Travel to endemic areas can increase your chances of developing influenza or SARS. If you develop a severe respiratory illness after travel to these areas or are taking care of someone who has, contact your doctor immediately, and avoid spreading this illness to others by washing hands frequently and avoiding coughing or sneezing near others.

  • If you get a flu shot every fall, you reduce your chances of getting influenza pneumonia.
  • If you have never had chickenpox, you can get a shot to prevent it. This reduces your chances of getting varicella pneumonia.

Outlook for Viral Pneumonia

Most people recover from viral pneumonia quickly with no damage to the lungs. You are at a greater risk for developing complications if you are very old or very young, or if you have a weakened immune system or chronic heart or lung disease.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on May 10, 2015
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