(Community-Acquired Pneumonia; CAP; Bronchopneumonia)
Pronounced: Noo-MO-NEE-yahEn Español (Spanish Version)More InDepth Information on This Condition
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. It affects the lower respiratory tract. This includes small bronchi (airways) and air sacs in the lungs.
Development of Pneumonia in the Air Sacs of the Lungs
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There are three main causes:
- Bacterial pneumonia—caused by bacteria, most commonly Streptococcus pneumoniae
- Viral pneumonia—caused by a virus
- Atypical bacterial pneumonia —often called "walking pneumonia," but can cause a more serious or potentially fatal pneumonia
Other causes of pneumonia include:
- Fungal infections, such as infections that are common in people with AIDS
Pneumonias are sometimes described by where it was acquired and how you were exposed to it:
- Community-acquired pneumonia—acquired in the community (eg, at school, work, gym)
Nosocomial pneumonia—acquired during a hospitalization
- Can be very dangerous, especially for patients on a ventilator
- Aspiration pneumonia —happens when a foreign matter (often stomach content) is inhaled
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Factors that increase your chance of pneumonia include:
- Age: 65 or older
- Flu or other respiratory illness
- Chronic illness, such as heart or lung disease
- Stroke (aspiration pneumonia due to difficult swallowing)
- Weakened immune system caused by AIDS or chemotherapy
- Chronic bronchitis
- Infants and very young children
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Chronic exposure to certain chemicals (eg, work in construction or agriculture)
Symptoms of pneumonia may include some or all of the following:
|Bacterial Pneumonia||Viral Pneumonia||Atypical Pneumonia|
|Fever||Fever||Fever, often low-grade|
|Cough that produces green, yellow, or rust-colored mucus||Dry cough||Coughing; may be violent at times; produces white mucus|
|Chest pain||Headache||Possible nausea or vomiting|
|Profuse sweating||Muscle pain||Weakness|
|Bluish color of the nails or lips due to diminished oxygen in the blood||Bluish color of the nails or lips due to diminished oxygen in the blood|
|Confused mental state||Weakness|
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis is based on symptoms and listening to your chest. Tests may include:
- Chest x-ray —a test that uses radiation to take pictures of structures inside the body, in this case the chest
- CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the chest
- Blood tests
- Bronchoscopy —direct examination of airways
- Sputum culture—testing mucus coughed up from deep in the lungs
- Pulse oximetry—measures the amount of oxygen in the blood
- Arterial blood gas—measures oxygen, carbon dioxide, and acid in the blood
Treatment of pneumonia depends on:
- Type of pneumonia
- Severity of symptoms
- Other factors
Common treatment approaches include:
- For bacterial pneumonia—antibiotics
For viral pneumonia—antiviral medicines may be prescribed for young children and people with weakened immune systems
- Note: Antibiotics are ineffective for treating viral pneumonia.
- Atypical pneumonia—antibiotics
It is very important to take the medicine as prescribed. Stopping medicine early may cause a relapse. It may also create a strain of drug resistant bacteria.
General treatment approaches include:
- Getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids
- Eating a healthy diet (includes lots of fruits and vegetables )—If you do not get enough vitamin C in your diet, ask your doctor if you should take a supplement (up to 1,000 mg). This may be beneficial for some people.
- Taking over-the-counter medicines to reduce fever, aches, and cough
- Being hospitalized (in severe cases)
If you are diagnosed with pneumonia, follow your doctor's instructions .
Certain vaccines may prevent pneumonia:
- Flu shot for people at high risk, particularly the elderly (Pneumonia may be a complication of the flu.)
- Pneumococcal vaccine
—General recommendations include:
- PCV vaccine series for children
- PPSV for adults aged 65 years and older and for younger people who are at high risk for getting infected
Other preventive measures include:
- Avoid smoking. Smoke weakens the lungs' resistance to infection. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/
- Avoid close contact with people who have the cold or flu.
- Wash your hands often. This is very important when coming in contact with infected people.
- Protect yourself on jobs that affect the lungs.
- Eat a healthy diet. If you do not get enough vitamin C or zinc in your diet, ask your doctor if you should take these supplements.
- Get adequate rest.
- Exercise regularly .
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Lung Association
The Canadian Lung Association
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Last reviewed September 2011 by Tajender S. Vasu, MD
Last updated Updated: 9/1/2011
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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