Pneumocystis Jiroveci Pneumonia

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia, also known as PCP, is a lung infection caused by fungi (germs). PCP is most often seen in people with a weak immune system. PCP is an opportunistic infection. This means that when your immune system is not working well, PCP is more likely to develop.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • PCP may make it difficult to breathe. You may need a machine to help you breathe until the infection is treated. Medicines to treat PCP may cause an allergic skin reaction. You may have nausea, vomiting, fever, and swelling in your kidneys. Medicines can also affect your bone marrow and decrease your ability to make blood cells. This causes weakness, and increases your risk for more infections. Even after treatment, some germs may be left in your airways. These germs may cause another infection.

  • If you are not treated for PCP, your airways or lungs will keep getting damaged and scarred. You will have more trouble breathing, and your body will not get enough oxygen. When your body does not get enough oxygen, organs such as your brain can be damaged. Air may collect around your lung, making it collapse. This causes severe difficulty breathing, and may cause death. PCP can weaken your body and cause you to have more infections.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Medicines:

You may be given the following medicines:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.

  • Steroids: This medicine may be given with other medicines if you do not have enough oxygen in your blood. If you use this medicine, you may be less likely to need a machine to help you breathe.

  • Vaccines: To prevent influenza (flu), all adults should get the influenza vaccine. They should get it every year as soon as it becomes available. 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.

Tests:

  • Blood gases: This is also called an arterial blood gas, or ABG. Blood is taken from an artery (blood vessel) in your wrist, arm, or groin. Your blood is tested for the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in it. The results can tell caregivers how well your lungs are working.

  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.

  • Chest CT scan: This is also called a CAT scan. A special x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your lungs and airway structures. It may be used to check for damage or other problems.

  • Pulmonary function tests: Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) help caregivers learn how well your body uses oxygen. You breathe into a mouthpiece connected to a machine. The machine measures how much air you breathe in and out over a certain amount of time. PFTs help your caregivers decide the best treatment for you.

  • Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your lungs and heart. Caregivers use it to see how your lungs and heart are doing. Caregivers may use the x-ray to look for signs of infection like pneumonia, or to look for collapsed lungs. Chest x-rays may show tumors, broken ribs, or fluid around the heart and lungs.

Treatment options:

  • You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

  • A ventilator is a machine that gives you oxygen and breathes for you when you cannot breathe well on your own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. You may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into your windpipe.

Smoking:

It is never too late to quit smoking. Smoking harms your body in many ways. You are more likely to have heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and other health problems if you smoke. Quitting smoking will improve your health and the health of those around you. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.

© 2014 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.

Learn more about Pneumocystis Jiroveci Pneumonia (Inpatient Care)

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