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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.


Return to the emergency department 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.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a 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 (upset stomach), or vomiting (throwing up).
  • 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.


  • Medicines may be given to help fight a bacterial infection, decrease swelling or fever, or relive pain. You may also need medicines to help open your airway to help you breathe. Medicines may also be given to help you cough mucus out of your lungs.
  • 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:

  • Do deep breathing and coughing as directed. 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 healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them in your follow-up visits.


  • Prevent the spread of germs. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use gel hand cleanser when soap and water are not 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 liquids as directed. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Liquids help thin your mucus, which may make it easier for you to cough it up. While you are sick, do not drink alcohol.
  • Ask about vaccines. You may need a vaccine to help prevent pneumonia. Get an influenza (flu) vaccine every year as soon as it becomes available.
  • Do not smoke, and do not allow others to smoke around you. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

© 2016 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.