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Hospital Acquired Pneumonia
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Hospital acquired pneumonia (HAP) is a lung infection that you get while you are in the hospital. HAP occurs 48 hours or more after being admitted to the hospital. Your lungs become swollen and cannot work well. HAP is usually caused by bacteria. It can become life-threatening.
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:
- You cough up blood.
- You have more trouble breathing, or your breathing seems faster than normal.
Seek immediate care if:
- Your symptoms return.
- You are confused and cannot think clearly.
- Your lips or fingernails turn blue.
Call your doctor if:
- You have a fever and chills.
- Your cough comes back or does not go away
- You feel very tired or weak, or are sleeping more than usual.
- You cannot eat or have loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting.
- 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 will be given to help fight a bacterial infection. You may also be given medicines to decrease swelling, and to help you cough up mucus.
- Inhalers and nebulizers help you breathe easier and cough up mucus. Inhalers and nebulizers give your medicine in a mist form so that you can breathe it into your lungs.
- 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.
Breathing treatments and support:
- Take deep breaths and cough as directed by your healthcare provider. This will decrease your risk for another lung infection. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Let the air out and then cough strongly. Deep breaths help open your airway. You may be given an incentive spirometer to help you take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your mouth and take a slow, deep breath, then let the air out and cough. Repeat these steps as directed.
- You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.
- 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. A room humidifier may also help make the air moist.
- 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.
Prevent the spread of germs:
- 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.
- Stay away from others while you are sick. Avoid crowds as much as possible.
- Ask about vaccines you may need. Talk to your healthcare provider about your vaccine history. He or she will tell you which vaccines you need, and when to get them.
- Get the influenza (flu) vaccine as soon as recommended each year. The flu vaccine is available starting in September or October. Flu viruses change, so it is important to get a flu vaccine every year.
- Get the pneumonia vaccine if recommended. This vaccine is usually recommended every 5 years. Your provider will tell you when to get this vaccine, if needed.
Follow up with your doctor 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.
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