Updated: October 14, 2017
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung affecting primarily the small air sacs known as alveoli. The alveoli will be filled with fluid or pus, making it difficult to breathe. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. The most common type of pneumonia in adults is bacterial pneumonia.
Usually mild pneumonia can be treated at home by getting plenty of rest, taking antibiotics and drinking plenty of fluids. If you do not have any chronic disease, you should respond well to treatment and recover soon, although your cough may last for some time.
As pneumonia is not contagious, it is safe to be around others, including family members. However, people with a weakened immune system should avoid close contact with a person with pneumonia until they start to get better.
Depending on the specific cause of the condition, pneumonia can be treated using antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal drugs. In most of the cases bacterial pneumonia can be treated at home with oral antibiotics, and most people respond to the antibiotics in 1 to 3 days.
over-the-counter (OTC) medication, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be recommended to relieve your pain and fever, as required. If your cough keeps you awake at night, cough medicine can be recommended to to calm your cough so you can rest.
If your symptoms are very severe or you have other health problems, you may need to be hospitalized for treating pneumonia. Your heart rate, temperature, and breathing should be monitored. Treatment may include:
The antibiotics are injected into your vein.
In this therapy specific medications can directly be delivered into the lungs by using a variety of techniques. The respiratory therapist may also teach you or help you to perform breathing exercises to maximize your oxygenation.
This treatment helps maintain the oxygen level in your bloodstream. Oxygen can be received through a nasal tube or a face mask. In severe case a ventilator (a machine that supports breathing) may be required.
Most people respond to treatment and recover from pneumonia. However, for people with chronic diseases, pneumonia can worsen chronic conditions or cause complications.
Recovery time will depend on the type of pneumonia you have, how severe it is, and your health condition. A person may feel back to normal in a week after treatment. But for few people it may take longer to recover and may have lingering fatigue. If your symptoms are severe, your recovery may take several weeks.
If you have certain chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure and emphysema, pneumonia could make them worse. Pneumonia may also increases the risk of having a heart attack.
Pneumonia may cause complications, especially in people with weakened immune systems or chronic diseases such as diabetes, congestive heart failure and emphysema. Complications can include:
These are cavities in the lungs that contain pus.
A condition in which you may have trouble getting enough oxygen when you breathe. You may need to use a ventilator.
In this condition bacteria from the pneumonia infection may spread to your bloodstream. This can lead to dangerously low blood pressure, septic shock, and in some cases, organ failure.
This is a severe form of respiratory failure where a medical emergency will be required.
The pleura are thin membranes that line the outside of your lungs and the inside of your rib cage. If your pneumonia is not treated, you may develop fluid around your lungs in your pleura which may become infected and need to be drained.
In some critical cases, pneumonia can be fatal.
It is not possible to prevent all types of pneumonia, but the chance of contracting the condition can be reduced by quitting smoking, practicing good hand-washing, and avoiding contact with people who have colds, the flu, or other infections.
You can maintain a healthy lifestyle to strengthen your immune system by taking enough rest, eating a healthy diet, and doing regular exercise.
Streptococcus pneumoniae also known as Pneumococcus vaccine is available against the most common bacterial cause of pneumonia.
Pneumonia can often be a complication of the flu, so make sure to also get an annual flu shot. Two types of pneumonia vaccines are available.
This vaccine is effective against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria and is recommended for:
This vaccine is effective against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria and is recommended for:
These vaccines may not always prevent pneumococcal pneumonia, but if it occurs they may prevent serious complications of pneumonia.
There is no antifungal vaccine available. To prevent fungal pneumonia, it is recommended to avoid the areas where fungal pathogens are endemic.
Any type of vaccine has the potential to cause an allergic reaction, which can be severe, but this side effect is rare. This would happen within minutes to a few hours after receiving the vaccine.
Side effects of PCV13 in children include drowsiness, temporary loss of appetite, or redness, swelling, or tenderness where the shot was given. Other common side effects are mild fever and irritability. For adults the side effects may include pain, redness, rash, and swelling where the shot was given. Mild fever, fatigue, headache, chills, or muscle pain can also happen.