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Community Acquired Pneumonia
Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP)
is a lung infection that you get from being around other people in the community. Your lungs become inflamed and do not work well. CAP may be caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The germs are easily spread from an infected person to others by coughing, sneezing, or close contact.
Common symptoms include the following:
- Cough that may bring up green, yellow, or bloody mucus
- Fever, chills, or severe shaking
- Shortness of breath
- Breathing and heartbeat that are faster than usual
- Pain in your chest or back when you breathe in or cough
- Fatigue and loss of appetite
- Trouble thinking clearly (especially in elderly people)
Seek care immediately if:
- You are confused and cannot think clearly.
- You have increased trouble breathing.
- Your lips or fingernails turn gray or blue.
Call your doctor 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.
Treatment for CAP
depends on what type of germ is causing your CAP, and how bad your symptoms are. You may need to be admitted to the hospital if your pneumonia is severe. You may need antibiotics for at least 5 days if your pneumonia is caused by bacteria. Antiviral medicines may be given if you have viral pneumonia. You may need medicines that dilate your bronchial tubes. You may need oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be.
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.
- 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. Wash your hands several times each day. Wash after you use the bathroom, change a child's diaper, and before you prepare or eat food. Use soap and water every time. Rub your soapy hands together, lacing your fingers. Wash the front and back of your hands, and in between your fingers. Use the fingers of one hand to scrub under the fingernails of the other hand. Wash for at least 20 seconds. Rinse with warm, running water for several seconds. Then dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel. Use hand sanitizer that contains alcohol if soap and water are not available. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands first.
- Cover a sneeze or cough. Use a tissue that covers your mouth and nose. Throw the tissue away in a trash can right away. Use the bend of your arm if a tissue is not available. Wash your hands well with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer. Do not stand close to anyone who is sneezing or coughing.
- Clean surfaces often. Clean doorknobs, countertops, cell phones, and other surfaces that are touched often. Use a disinfecting wipe, a single-use sponge, or a cloth you can wash and reuse. Use disinfecting cleaners if you do not have wipes. You can create a disinfecting cleaner by mixing 1 part bleach with 10 parts water.
- 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. You may need vaccines to help prevent pneumonia and COVID-19. Get an influenza (flu) vaccine every year as soon as recommended, usually in September or October. Your healthcare provider can tell you if you should get any other vaccines, and when to get them.
Follow up with your doctor 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.
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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.
Learn more about Community Acquired Pneumonia (Ambulatory Care)
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