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Bacterial Pneumonia


Bacterial pneumonia is a lung infection caused by bacteria. It makes your lungs inflamed, which means they cannot work well. Bacterial pneumonia germs are easily spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or has close contact with others.



  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.

  • Expectorants: Expectorant medicine helps thin your sputum (mucus from the lungs). When sputum is thin, it may be easier for you to cough it up and spit it out. This may make your breathing easier, and may help you get better faster.

  • Bronchodilators: You may need bronchodilators to help open the air passages in your lungs, and help you breathe more easily.

  • Antipyretics: This medicine is given to decrease a fever.

  • Steroid medicines: Steroid medicine may help open your air passages so you can breathe easier. Do not stop taking this medicine without your primary healthcare provider's okay. Stopping on your own can cause problems.

  • Inhalers and nebulizers: Your caregiver may give you one or more inhalers to help you breathe easier and cough up mucus. An inhaler gives your medicine in a mist form so that you can breathe it into your lungs. This type of medicine may also be given using a nebulizer, or "breathing treatment machine". Using inhalers and nebulizers the right way takes practice. Ask your caregiver for more information about using inhalers and nebulizers correctly.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Breathing treatments and support:

  • Deep breathing and coughing: You may need to breathe deeply and cough often. Deep breathing helps open the air passages in your lungs. Coughing helps to bring up mucus from your lungs. Sit up regularly or get out of bed to help you breathe more easily and get better faster.

  • Oxygen: You may need extra oxygen to help you breathe easier. It may be given through a plastic mask over your mouth and nose. It may be given through a nasal cannula, or prongs, instead of a mask. A nasal cannula is a pair of short, thin tubes that rest just inside your nose. Tell your caregiver if your nose gets dry or if you get redness or sores on your skin. Never smoke or let anyone else smoke in the same room while your oxygen is on. Doing so may cause a fire.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Avoid the spread of germs: Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use gel hand cleanser when there is no soap and water available. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you have washed your hands first. Cover your mouth when you cough. Cough into a tissue or your shirtsleeve so you do not spread germs from your hands. If you are sick, stay away from others as much as possible.

  • Drink enough liquids: Men 19 years old or older should drink about 3 liters of liquid each day (close to thirteen 8 ounce cups). Women 19 years old or older should drink about 2.2 liters of liquid each day (close to nine 8 ounce cups). Liquids help thin your mucus, which may make it easier for you to cough it up. While you are sick, do not drink alcohol.

  • Get vaccinated: The pneumococcal vaccine is given to adults aged 65 years or older to prevent pneumococcal disease, such as pneumonia. People aged 19 to 64 years at high risk for pneumococcal disease also should get the pneumococcal vaccine. It may need to be repeated 5 years later. Get an influenza (flu) vaccine every year as soon as it becomes available.

  • Quit smoking: Do not smoke, and do not allow others to smoke around you. Smoking increases your risk of lung infections. Smoking also makes it harder for you to get better after a lung infection. Talk to your primary healthcare provider if you need help to quit smoking.

  • Rest: Rest when you feel it is needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You have fever and chills.

  • Your cough comes back, does not go away, or you begin to cough up blood.

  • You feel very tired or weak, or are sleeping more than usual.

  • You cannot eat or have loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting.

  • You are urinating less, or not at all.

  • Your heart or pulse beats more than 100 times in 1 minute.

  • You have questions about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your symptoms do not get better, or get worse.

  • You are confused and cannot think clearly.

  • You have more trouble breathing, or your breathing seems faster than normal.

  • Your lips or fingernails turn gray or blue.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.