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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 (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 care immediately 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.
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 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. 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.
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 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.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
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.