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Pneumonia (Bacterial)

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a sudden infection and inflammation of the lungs and bronchial tubes that impairs the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. It is usually a bacterial infection (pneumococci, haemophilus, streptococci or staphylococci) but at times may be caused by a virus. It can affect people of both genders and all ages, though the severity is worse in young children and older adults. Mild cases can be treated at home.

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death from infectious disease. For young children—below the age of 5—and elderly people—older than age 60—pneumonia can become severe enough to be hospitalized. It can also become severe for people in the other age groups if they are already suffering from other illnesses, like COPD, lung cancer, or AIDS, and/or are smokers.

What are the Symptoms of Pneumonia?

The symptoms of viral pneumonia come on more slowly and are not as severe. The common symptoms of bacterial pneumonia include:

  • high fever (over 103° F) and chills
  • cough with sputum that may be green or contain blood or bloody streaks
  • rapid breathing
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain that is worse when you breathe in
  • abdominal pain
  • feeling tired
  • loss of appetite and weight loss

You may not have all of these symptoms. Some people may not have a fever, while others may have a cough without mucus. For elderly people, pneumonia can affect the thought process and lead to confusion or delirium. Pneumonia can get worse for someone already suffering from some other lung disease such as COPD, bronchiectasis or cystic fibrosis.

How do I Keep From Getting Pneumonia

Those who are at high risk—have a greater chance of getting pneumonia—are people in the following groups:

  • newborns, infants, children under 5 or adults over age 60
  • those who recently had the flu or upper respiratory tract infection
  • smokers
  • people with a chronic illness such as COPD, diabetes or cancer (particularly lung cancer), or are unhealthy for any reason
  • those with a weakened immune system or are malnourished
  • people who have recently had thoracic or abdominal surgery, or have been in the hospital for any reason

You can reduce your chances of getting pneumonia by:

  • Staying away from people who have pneumonia; pneumonia spreads very easily from infected people.
  • Having healthy habits like eating a balanced diet, regular exercise, proper rest, covering your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, and washing your hands often, especially before eating or preparing food, visiting someone in the hospital, or being out in public.
  • Getting an annual flu shot to prevent influenza, which might end up as pneumonia. For people over age 60, get the pneumococcal vaccine (shot).
  • Stop smoking. Tobacco weakens the lungs so they cannot fight infections.

You should talk your doctor about more preventive measures if you are health issues like diabetes, cancer, or AIDS.

How do You Get Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is caused by germs like bacteria or virus, which maybe present in your nose, sinuses, or mouth, or germs might enter directly from the air when you breathe. These germs spread to the lungs and can cause the infection. You can also get germs from someone who is already infected with pneumonia.

For those who are already suffering from a cold or the flu, the lungs and immune system have become weakened and get infected easily. Patients with chronic illnesses like asthma, cancer, diabetes or heart diseases, bacterial pneumonia can infect more easily. It’s also worth mentioning that pneumonia is one of the most common post-operative complications.

Symptoms of Pneumonia

Lungs, Diaphragm and Alveoli

Lungs, Diaphragm, Alveoli (air sacs)

When your body starts fighting the infection, your lungs become inflamed and the air sacs (alveoli) in your lungs fill with mucus. The thick mucus makes it harder for you to breathe.

Most of the signs and symptoms result from the mucus in your lungs.

• bloody, dark yellow or rusty-colored mucus
• breathing fast
• chest pain when you breathe or cough
• coughing
• feeling tired and weak
• fever and chills
• rattling sounds in your lungs
• shortness of breath
• the skin on your lips or nails look blue (from lack of oxygen)

Diagnosis of Pneumonia

You doctor will take a history of your symptoms and order a blood test, chest x-ray and sputum test. These test can find what type pneumonia you have and what medicines will be effective in treatment.

Treating Pneumonia

Bacterial pneumonia it is treated with a broad spectrum antibiotic, rest and fluids to keep the mucus thin and easy to cough up. Generally, the antibiotics will make you feel better within two or three days. However, if you do not feel better or your feel worse within three days, call your doctor. You may also be prescribed medicine for your cough, to relieve chest pain or reduce a fever.

You may feel very tired because your body is using its energy to heal. Also, you’re not getting as much air into your body as your normally would because of the mucous in your lungs and air sacs. It is important to get plenty of rest and let you body use its energy to heal.


It is very important to complete the entire prescribed course of antibiotics and not stop even though your symptoms have improved and you’re feeling better. Not completing the entire prescription can lead to recurrence which is much more serious that the initial pneumonia. Antibiotics used to treat pneumonia are very strong and may have side effects:

• upset stomach
• sore mouth or tongue
• diarrhea
• pain, itching and burning when you pee
• vaginal yeast infection

Let your doctor know if you have these side effects, he may change your antibiotic or have to prescribe medicine for the side effects.

Cough Medicine

Coughing helps your lungs get rid of the mucus and keeps it from spreading in your lungs. Your doctor may prescribe an expectorant loosen the mucus and make it easier to cough up. Cough into tissues. The mucus you cough up is filled with bacteria so put used tissues in a plastic bag and then throw the bag away. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling contaminated tissues to prevent spreading to other members of your family.

Pain and Fever Control Medicine

Controlling the pain in your chest will make it easier for you to breathe and get more oxygen into your lungs. You can also breath deeper and cough more to get the mucus out.

Get plenty of rest so your body can use its energy to heal and prevent relapse. You may tire easily because your body isn’t getting as much oxygen and it’s also fighting an infection. Alternate activity with rest to save your energy. Your doctor will tell you when you can resume normal activity, it may take up to 6 weeks.

Eat extra calories during the day. If your throat is sore, warm foods or drinks may feel better. Eat 6 or more small meals and not 3 large ones. Drink eight 8 oz glasses of liquids each day. The extra liquids will help keep the mucus thin and fluid for easier removal and help keep your fever down. Avoid drinks with caffeine as they can dehydrate you.

If you smoke—STOP! Smoking harms and irritates your lungs causing more mucus. If you need help quitting ask your doctor to refer you to a stop-smoking program or help you with quitting.

Treating Pneumonia in the Hospital

Some people have to be treated in the hospital. Whether you need hospital treatment depends on:

• how bad your lungs are infected
• whether you have other health conditions like COPD, heart, or kidney disease
• if you have someone who can care for you at home
• how old you are
• if you need IV antibiotics

Speeding Up Your Recovery

Although pneumonia can be cured giving the treatments enough time to work, you can do the following to help speed up your recovery:

  • Call your doctor as soon as you start having symptoms of pneumonia. The sooner treatment begins, the faster you’ll recover.
  • If symptoms are getting worse, you have other health issues, or your immune system is weak, you might have to go to the hospital for around the clock monitoring and treatment with fluids, oxygen, breathing support and IV medication.
  • Your body needs energy (calories) to heal, so increase your daily calories and increase your fluids. Also, you can save energy by getting plenty of rest.
  • Quit smoking. This will definitely help your lungs to respond better to the medications and thereby hasten the healing process.
  • Call or see your doctor to get treatment for symptoms like a cough, which can keep you from resting.

If you are otherwise healthy—normal lungs and adequate immune system—pneumonia is usually curable in a 1 to 2 weeks with treatment. It may take longer to cure in young children, the elderly or people who have other health conditions.

When to Call Your Doctor

You should call your doctor if you or any member of your family has symptoms of pneumonia. You should also call if you have any of the following symptoms while you are getting treatment for pneumonia:

  • your fever, pain or shortness of breath gets worse
  • you have dark or bluish fingernails, toenails or skin
  • you see blood in the sputum you’re coughing up
  • you begin having nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

Staying Healthy

Once you have pneumonia you are more likely to get it again. Also, other infections or irritations in your lungs can increase your chance of getting pneumonia. Here are things you can do to stay healthy and lower your chances of getting an infection that could lead to pneumonia:

• Talk to your doctor about the pneumonia vaccine. It is recommended once after age 65, for people with chronic illnesses like diabetes or lung disease, and for people with weak immune systems.
• Get a flu shot every year
• Don’t go around people who you know are sick
• Don’t let yourself get too tired or run down
• Drink plenty of fluids and fruits to stay hydrated
• If it’s cold outside, cover your mouth and nose with a scarf to warm the air you breathe
• Wash your hands often, especially after being in public, using proper hand washing techniques


  1. Nancy Lien says

    hi I am 65 years young and have symptoms of automine Disease and had my pneomia shot in feb 2019 and got the pneomia now.can I get it again?

  2. Becky Segundo says

    I wonder if pneumonia can trigger asthma after the cure treatment? I had pneumonia on my left lower lobe in May this year. Had the flu that morphed to pneumonia. Fever, chills weakness, weight loss, fatigue, chest pain & intermittent cough. Antibiotics worked like a charm, but still blown away with how very sick I felt. 4 months later I have a good clear chest X-ray but have ongoing chest fullness in my left bronchial tube, worse on windy days. So I wonder if this could cause me to get asthma. Im in my early 50s with RA & diabetic.

  3. David jones says

    I still can’t breath properly since Xmas 2017 the NHS in England is diabolical, they want to save as much as they can but not helping me. I’m sure I’m getting close to death as I’m getting much worst. My partner is going to sue the NHS as it shouldn’t be going on this long.

  4. To: Gina Franklin, March 6.I only just read your note, so I am very hopeful you are back to feeling yourself (or close to it) by now.

    I respond to not just you, but to the hundreds of posts I run into. People are afraid, as you put it, to bother their doctor. What needs to be u derstood is that, although you are a patient, more so, you are a CUSTOMER. You are paying for your visit, as most likely, your insurance is doing the same, three to nine-fold! If you know your doctor is crazy busy and you want to be a bit more delicate and understanding of his/her day, you can ALWAYS ask to speak or leave message with the nurse or other clinical staff. This way of communicating is very effective.

    Pneumonia is very serious and since you were already in the hospital a short time ago, your immune system is still working on it’s self-repair 😉. When your immune system is worn down, you are extremely susceptible to anything out there, including what you just had. DO NOT WORRY ABOUT YOUR DOCTOR’S DAY. INSTEAD SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY. Your doctor wants you well just as much as you do!

  5. nits aryan says

    person having heart problem should be very careful in case he or she catches neumonia. the lung inflection could very well be the result of heart inefficiency / ailment and immediate help of doctor is a must. experienced from case of a close relative .

  6. Gina Franklin says

    Can you catch pneumonia a month later after being released from the hospital for spending 6 days for pneumonia.

    So I spent 6 days in the hospital for pneumonia in early February. I was sent home on on 3 liters of oxygen and have been on it since because my O2 sats keep dropping. Today I threw up once and now I’ve started coughing, atm having a low grade fever, no energy,and diarrhea. I just don’t want to end up back in the hospital for pneumonia, but I don’t want to bother my PCP in case it isn’t.

  7. Onyeaka George says

    pneumonia you are so wicked

  8. My dad in law smokes but lately he’s had a very bad cough and sniffy nose and he’s already had pneumonia that put him in hospital and I’m worried hes getting it . How will he tell if he is

  9. Monica mckenzie says

    I have pneumonia attack and I get the highest levels of antibiotics to take coughed medication all so pain pills but I have this dry coughing not leaving me what do i do

  10. Is there any weight loss in pneumonia affected kids


  12. Hi like you I got pnuemonia a few wks ago I developed lung cancer 2 years ago and had my whole right lung removed wen I went to hospital a few wks ago I thought that was it but I was so surprised how I don’t feel ill or tired after 2 wks my oxygen levels are back to 98 and with one lung is pretty good I listen to so many stories and I think I must be so lucky the first time in my life carol

  13. Michelle Howard says

    In February of this year I unfortunately came down with pneumonia and was rushed to the ER by my husband. The ER nurse explained to him that my Blood Oxygen was at 72, and if he had not gotten me in when he did I probably would not have made it through the weekend. The pneumonia had infected both lungs, upper and lower lobes and as soon as I walked in to the ER I was admitted. I was placed on a breathing machine right away and all the testing and IV’s began. I don’t remember the first few days of being there, but as the days came and went I seemed to be getting better. After being in the ICU after a week and a half the moved me to the next level of hospital care and four days later I was able to return to my home to continue getting better. For the next 30 days I was on oxygen 24/7 and rarely left my home because I was still getting weak and exhausted easier than a normal person. Throughout the next months I was able to wean off of the 24/7 oxygen, to only needing it a few times a week now in the evening. (Usually after a long day or two out and about) During the months of getting better, my contact outdoors was very limited. Since I live in Las Vegas it was usually too hot to do anything outside, and I was stuck indoors. I began to notice that my feet began to get cold faster and easier than they had before, and no matter what I was always wearing socks. Shortly after noticing my feet, I noticed that my fingers, toes, knees, elbows and really any joint in my body was hurting to move. It became concerning because I have never felt this way and the pain is not going away. I also seem to have a pain in my right side that seems to some and so. It’s usually after I am breathing deeply, laughing, doing the breathing exercises or just walking around for the day. I also find myself a few times a week taking a double breath and it almost sounds like I am gasping for air. I don’t feel like I am, but it sounds like it.
    Can you please tell me if these are the side effects of the deadly pneumonia I had gotten and if and what I can do to relieve myself of the pains. I am only 41 years old, and I feel like I am older.
    PS: I have not had a cigarette since February 3rd 2014, the only good outcome from this nasty infection!
    I sure hope you can help.
    Thank you,
    Michelle Howard

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