Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus, causing coughs with phlegm, fever, chills and difficulty breathing. Pneumonia has many possible causes. The most common causes are the bacteria and viruses in the air we breathe. Your body usually prevents these germs from infecting your lungs but sometimes these germs can overpower your immune system, even if your health is generally good.
Pneumonia can range in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. It is most serious for infants and young children, people older than age 65 and people with underlying health problems or weakened immune systems.
The signs and symptoms of pneumonia vary from mild to severe, depending upon factors such as the type of germ causing the infection, your age and overall health. Mild signs and symptoms often are similar to those of a cold or flu, but they last longer.
Signs and symptoms of pneumonia include:
- Fever, sweating and shaking chills
- Cough, which may produce thick, sticky fluid
- Chest pain when you breathe deeply or cough
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue and muscle aches
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
See a doctor if you have difficulty breathing, chest pain, persistent fever of 102 degrees F (39 degrees C) or higher or persistent cough, especially if you are coughing up pus.
If pneumonia is suspected, your doctor may recommend:
- Chest X-rays to confirm the presence of pneumonia and determine the extent and location of the infection.
- Blood tests to confirm the presence of infection and to try to identify the type of organism causing the infection. Precise identification occurs in only about half of people with pneumonia.
Specific treatments depend on the type and severity of your pneumonia and your age and overall health. The options include:
- Antibiotics to treat bacterial pneumonia. Symptoms often improve within three days, although improvement usually takes twice as long in smokers.
- Antiviral medications to treat viral pneumonia. Symptoms generally improve in one to three weeks.
- Fever reducers such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
- Cough medicine to calm your cough so you can rest. Because coughing helps loosen and move fluid from your lungs, it's a good idea not to eliminate your cough completely.
Our Neighborhood Walk-In Clinic is:
- Walk-in friendly
- Open 7 days a week 8am-8pm
- In-network for most Washington insurers
- Open extended hours
- Equipped with X-Ray and Lab on-site
- Staffed by Doctors, Physician Assistants, and Nurse Practitioners