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Community Acquired Pneumonia
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is a lung infection that you get outside of a hospital or nursing home setting. Your lungs become inflamed and cannot work well. CAP may be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
Return to the emergency department if:
- 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.
- Medicines may be given to treat a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. You may also be given medicines to dilate your bronchial tubes to help you breathe more easily.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her 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.
Deep breathing and coughing:
Deep breathing helps open the air passages in your lungs. Coughing helps bring up mucus from your lungs. Take a deep breath and hold the breath as long as you can. Then push the air out of your lungs with a deep, strong cough. Spit out any mucus you have coughed up. Take 10 deep breaths in a row every hour that you are awake. Remember to follow each deep breath with a cough.
Do not smoke or 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.
Manage CAP at home:
- Breathe warm, moist air. This helps loosen mucus. Loosely place a warm, wet washcloth over your nose and mouth. A room humidifier may also help make the air moist.
- 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. Lie with your head lower than your chest several times a day and tap your chest.
- Get plenty of rest. Rest helps your body heal.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Carry germ-killing hand gel with you. You can use the gel to clean your hands when soap and water are not available. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you have washed your hands first.
- Clean surfaces often. Clean doorknobs, countertops, cell phones, and other surfaces that are touched often.
- Always cover your mouth when you cough. Cough into a tissue or your shirtsleeve so you do not spread germs from your hands.
- Try to avoid people who have a cold or the flu. If you are sick, stay away from others as much as possible.
- 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.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.