What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a lung infection, causing coughing, fever and difficulty breathing. It is a serious situation, especially in young children, people aged over 65 and people who have other serious health problems. Usually, it is caused by bacteria, but can also be caused by viruses and other microorganisms.

What are the symptoms of pneumonia?

The most common are:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Breathlessness
  • Chest pain, particularly during deep breathing
  • Tachycardia
  • Chills
  • Purulent or mucous sputum

Do I need to visit my doctor if I have pneumonia?

Yes. As soon as possible. Pneumonia may be mild, but several times can be very serious and endanger the patient’s life, especially if treatment is not initiated soon. Visit your doctor if:

  • The cough worsens
  • You feel difficulty breathing
  • There is high fever (> 38.8 ° C)
  • You experience chest pain, especially when taking a deep breath
  • After a common cold, and despite the fact that it may initially had improved, it suddenly begins to deteriorate.

If your doctor thinks that you have pneumonia, he will probably recommend that you undergo a chest radiograph. This is the examination of choice for the diagnosis of pneumonia.

What is the treatment of pneumonia?

Pneumonia is treated with antibiotics. These drugs kill the microorganisms that cause pneumonia. Most patients receive antibiotics at home, but some are so sick that need to be treated in the hospital or clinic. It is very important to take the full dosage of treatment as proposed by the physician, although you may start  feeling better before the completion of all required doses of drugs.

After how long will I feel better?

You may feel better 3-5 days after initiation of antibiotics. Most patients return to daily activities after a week from starting treatment. Even then, it is likely to feel tired and weak or to cough even up to one month after the initiation of treatment.

What should you do if you have pneumonia?

Initially you need some rest, restriction of activities and plenty of fluids. After 4-6 weeks you may need to visit again your doctor.

What can you do to reduce your chances of suffering again from pneumonia?

Washing hands with soap and water or with an alcoholic antiseptic. Thus you can be partially protected by many microorganisms. Also, you can have a vaccination against the most frequent microorganism that causes pneumonia. However, this is not an indication for everyone. Ask your doctor whether you can and need to have the vaccine. Also, most patients can be vaccinated against the flu virus every year.