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Pneumonia, Ambulatory Care



is an infection in your lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungus. You can become infected if you come in contact with someone who is sick. You can get pneumonia if you recently had surgery or needed a ventilator to help you breathe. Pneumonia can also be caused by accidentally inhaling saliva or small pieces of food. Pneumonia may cause mild symptoms, or it can be severe and life-threatening.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
  • Chest pain when you cough or breathe deeply
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue or confusion

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Coughing up blood
  • Heart rate more than 100 beats in 1 minute
  • Fatigue or confusion
  • Chest pain or trouble breathing
  • Gray or blue lips or fingernails

Treatment for pneumonia

will depend on how severe it is. Medicine may be given to treat an infection. You may also need acetaminophen to decrease pain or fever. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. You may also need to do exercises to help remove mucous and make breathing easier. You may also need a device or machine to decrease your symptoms or help you breathe.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Rest as needed. Rest often throughout the day. Alternate times of activity with times of rest.
  • 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.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking increases your risk for pneumonia. Smoking also makes it harder for you to get better after you have had pneumonia. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help to quit smoking.

Prevent pneumonia:

  • Avoid the spread of germs. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use gel hand cleanser when there is no soap and water available. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you have washed your hands first. Cover your mouth when you cough. Cough into a tissue or your shirtsleeve so you do not spread germs from your hands. 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.

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.

© 2015 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.