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Community-acquired Pneumonia, Ambulatory Care

Community-acquired pneumonia

(CAP) is a lung infection that you get from being around other people in the community. When you have CAP, your lungs become inflamed and do not work well. CAP is caused by different germs, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi (yeasts). The germs are easily spread from an infected person to others by coughing, sneezing, or close contact.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Dry cough or coughing up mucus, which may be streaked with blood
  • Fever, chills, or severe shaking
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing, or chest pain
  • Feeling tired easily
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Headache, muscle pain, or abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Trouble thinking clearly

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Symptoms that do not get better, or they get worse
  • Confusion and trouble thinking clearly
  • Trouble breathing, or faster breathing than normal
  • Lips or fingernails turn gray or blue

Treatment for CAP

depends on what type of germ is causing your CAP, and how bad your symptoms are. You may need antibiotics if your pneumonia is caused by bacteria. You may need medicines that dilate your bronchial tubes. You may need oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may need to be admitted to the hospital if your pneumonia is severe.

Manage CAP:

  • 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.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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. 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.

© 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.

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