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Community-acquired Pneumonia


Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is a lung infection that you get outside of a hospital or nursing home setting. When you have CAP, your lungs become inflamed and cannot work well. CAP may be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi.


Seek care immediately:

  • You are confused and cannot think clearly.

  • You have increased trouble breathing.

  • Your lips or fingernails turn gray or blue.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

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

  • You are urinating less, or not at all.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • 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.

  • 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.

Follow up with your healthcare provider within 3 days or as directed:

You may need another x-ray. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage CAP at home:

  • Breathe warm, moist air. This helps loosen mucus. Loosely place a warm, wet washcloth over your nose and mouth .

  • Take deep breaths. Deep breaths help open your airway. Take 2 deep breaths and cough 2 or 3 times every hour. Coughing helps get mucus out of your body.

  • Drink liquids as directed. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids to drink. Liquids help make mucus thin and easier to get out of your body.

  • Gently tap your chest. This helps loosen mucus so it is easier to cough. Lay with your head lower than your chest several times a day and tap your chest.

  • Get plenty of rest. Rest helps your body heal.

Prevent CAP:

  • Wash your hands often. Wash your hands with soap and water after you use the bathroom, change a child's diapers, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.

  • Do not smoke. Smoking decreases your lungs ability to fight infections. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information if you need help quitting.

  • Get vaccinated. Some types of pneumonia can be prevented with vaccines. You may need a vaccine to help prevent pneumonia. Get a flu vaccine every year as soon as it becomes available. The flu vaccine can help prevent pneumonia caused by the flu.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.