Pneumonia is a breathing (respiratory) condition in which there is an infection of the lung.
Community-acquired pneumonia is pneumonia in people who have not recently been in the hospital or another health care facility (nursing home, rehabilitation facility).
See also: Hospital-acquired pneumonia
Bronchopneumonia; Community-acquired pneumonia
Pneumonia is a common illness that affects millions of people each year in the United States. Germs called bacteria, viruses, and fungi may cause pneumonia.
Ways you can get pneumonia include:
Pneumonia caused by bacteria tends to be the most serious kind. In adults, bacteria are the most common cause of pneumonia.
Many other bacteria can also cause pneumonia.
Viruses are also a common cause of pneumonia, especially in infants and young children.
See also: Respiratory syncytial virus
Risk factors (conditions that increase your chances of getting pneumonia) include:
The most common symptoms of pneumonia are:
Other symptoms include:
If you have pneumonia, you may be working hard to breathe, or breathing fast.
The health care provider will hear crackles when listening to your chest with a stethoscope. Other abnormal breathing sounds may also be heard through the stethoscope or via percussion (tapping on your chest wall).
The health care provider will likely order a chest x-ray if pneumonia is suspected.
Some patients may need other tests, including:
Your doctor must first decide whether you need to be in the hospital. If you are treated in the hospital, you will receive:
It is very important that you are started on antibiotics very soon after you are admitted.
You are more likely to be admitted to the hospital if you:
However, many people can be treated at home. If bacteria are causing the pneumonia, the doctor will try to cure the infection with antibiotics. It may be hard for your health care provider to know whether you have viral or bacterial pneumonia, so you may receive antibiotics.
Your doctor may tell you to take antibiotics. Antibiotics help most people with pneumonia get better.
Breathing warm, moist (wet) air helps loosen the sticky mucus that may make you feel like you are choking. These things may help:
Coughing helps clear your airways. Take a couple of deep breaths two or three times every hour. Deep breaths will help open up your lungs.
Tap your chest gently a few times a day and lie with your head lower than your chest. This can help bring up mucus from the lungs.
If you smoke any tobacco products, STOP. Do not allow smoking in your home.
Drink plenty of liquids (as long as your health care provider says it is okay):
Get plenty of rest when you go home. If you have trouble sleeping at night, take naps during the day.
With treatment, most patients will improve within 2 weeks. Elderly or very sick patients may need longer treatment.
Those who may be more likely to have complicated pneumonia include:
Your doctor may want to make sure your chest x-ray becomes normal again after you take a course of antibiotics. However, it may take many weeks for your x-ray to clear up.
Possible complications include:
Call your doctor if you have:
Infants with pneumonia may not have a cough. Call your doctor if your infant makes grunting noises or the area below the rib cage is pulling in during breathing.
Wash your hands often, especially after:
Also wash your hands before eating or preparing foods.
Don't smoke. Tobacco damages your lung's ability to ward off infection.
Vaccines may help prevent pneumonia in children, the elderly, and people with diabetes, asthma, emphysema, HIV, cancer, or other long-term conditions:
If you have cancer or HIV, talk to your doctor about ways to prevent pneumonia and other infections.
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