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Chest and Respiratory Problems

Pneumonia

Prevention - Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

Pneumonia is an infection or inflammation that affects the bronchial tubes and lungs. Pneumonia is usually caused by bacteria, but viruses and other organisms can cause it as well. Pneumonia may also develop as a complication of another viral illness, such as measles or chickenpox.

Pneumonia sometimes follows a viral upper respiratory infection, such as a cold or bronchitis. A person

who has bacterial pneumonia is usually very sick. Symptoms may include:

Prevention

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  • Get a pneumococcal vaccination if you are over 65, or if you are younger than 65 and have a chronic lung disease such as emphysema. (If you are younger than 65 and you have asthma, talk to your doctor about whether you should receive the pneumococcal vaccine). See Pneumococcal Infection.

  • Keep up your resistance to infection by eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of rest, and exercising regularly.

Home Treatment

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Call a health professional if you suspect you have pneumonia. If pneumonia is diagnosed:

  • Take the entire course of all prescribed medications.

  • Drink 8 to 12 glasses of water a day. You are drinking enough if you are urinating more often than usual. Extra fluids help thin the mucus in the lungs.

  • Get lots of rest. Don't try to rush your recovery.

  • Take acetaminophen or aspirin to reduce fever and make you feel more comfortable. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20.

When to Call a Health Professional

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  • If you develop symptoms of pneumonia.

  • If your breathing becomes rapid or labored during any respiratory illness.

  • If you have new chest pain that gets worse whenever you take a deep breath.

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