Viral pneumonia can be hard to diagnose because it may start out with symptoms similar to those seen with the common cold or flu. The healthcare provider will consider your symptoms, your medical history, and the results from a physical exam and tests when determining if you have viral pneumonia.
Viral pneumonia isn't treated with antibiotics -- these medications don't work when a virus causes the pneumonia. Instead, a healthcare provider may prescribe an antiviral medicine.
Other treatment recommendations may include:
- Getting plenty of rest (both at night and during the day, if needed).
- Drinking plenty of fluids. Drinking smaller amounts of fluid more often might be easier than drinking more fluids less often.
- Taking acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) to help with any pain or fever. These medicines will also help make coughing easier. Coughing is good because it will help clear the lungs of germs. For this reason, cough-suppressant medicine is not recommended.
In general, a person with pneumonia is contagious. It is unlikely, however, that this person would give another person pneumonia. Instead, when spread, the viruses that can cause pneumonia are more likely to cause upper respiratory infections, such as the common cold or flu.
People can limit the spread of these viruses by:
- Washing their hands regularly
- Keeping their hands away from their nose, mouth, and eyes
- Limiting exposure to infected people
- Not sharing drinking glasses or eating utensils.