Viral pneumonia

Alternative Names

Pneumonia – viral; “Walking pneumonia” – viral

Definition of Viral pneumonia

Viral pneumonia is inflammation (irritation and swelling) of the lungs due to infection with a virus.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Viral is more likely to occur in young children and older adults, because their bodies have a harder time fighting off the virus.


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

Signs and tests

Persons with suspected pneumonia should have a complete medical evaluation, including a thorough physical exam and a — especially since the physical exam may not always distinguish pneumonia from acute bronchitis or other respiratory infections.


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

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.


Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 9/15/2010

Respiratory system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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