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Viral Pneumonia

Intro

Go to your hospital's emergency department or call your doctor if you develop any of these symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath, either at rest or with just a little exertion
  • Severe chest pain  
  • Severe weakness
  • Coughing up blood
  • Vomiting so much that you are dehydrated  
Self-Care at Home

If you've been diagnosed with viral pneumonia, you need to rest and drink plenty of fluids.

If you overexert yourself when you are sick, even with a virus, you can prevent your immune system   from fighting off the illness, and possibly get even sicker.

You can use over-the-counter medicines to reduce fever  , body aches, and cough. Although some medicines can help you feel better, you still need rest. These medicines won't cure you, and your body still needs rest to have the energy to fight the infection and to heal itself.

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Follow-up

If you are treated at home, your doctor will probably ask you to return in 1-4 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

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

Most people get well 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 lung chronic heart or disease.

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