Health Guide

Bacterial pneumonia

What is it?

Bacterial pneumonia (new-moan-yuh) is an infection of the lungs that causes increased fluid in the lungs. It is also called bacterial pneumonitis (new-mo-ni-tis). This disease is most serious in young children and those over 60 years.


It is caused by germs called bacteria (bak-teer-e-uh). The bacteria are usually breathed in and settle in the lungs. The bacteria can also be passed from hand to hand.

Signs and Symptoms:

This illness often follows a cold and settles in the lungs. Most people with pneumonia have a fever. Trouble breathing, a cough with bloody or yellow sputum, and pain with breathing are also common. Other signs may include fast breathing or tiredness.

Wellness Recommendations:

Do not smoke! Smoking increases your risk of getting pneumonia. Caregivers may suggest that you receive the pneumonia vaccine if you have a long term health problem or if you are over 50 years. This vaccine protects you against the most common type of pneumonia that is caused by the pneumococcus bacteria.

Eating a healthy balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and decreasing stress can help fight off disease.

Medical Care:

You may be treated at home if you have no other health problems. A pulse oximetry test may be done to measure the amount of oxygen in your blood. A chest x-ray (picture) may be taken of your lungs. Blood tests may also be done. Antibiotic medicine may be used to treat the pneumonia. A humidifier may loosen your sputum and make it easier to cough up. Rest and drink 6 to 8 (soda pop can size) glasses of liquids each day. If you feel like you are not improving and are getting worse, call your doctor right away. You may need to be put in the hospital.

Dietary Measures:

  • Decrease the sugar in your diet. Your ability to fight infection may improve if you eat less sugar. If you drink soda pop, do not drink more than one can a day as it contains much sugar.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.



      Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

      Talk to your caregiver if:

      • You would like medicine to treat bacterial pneumonia.
      • Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
      • You are coughing up bloody sputum.
      • You have questions about what you have read in this document.


      • You have trouble breathing.
      • You have a severe headache, stiff neck, or feel confused.

      Care Agreement:

      You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


      1. Almirall J, Gonzalez CA, Balanzo X et al: Proportion of community-acquired pneumonia cases attributable to tobacco smoking. Chest 1999; 116(2):375-379.

      2. Karper WB & Hopewell R: Exercise, immunity, acute respiratory infections, and homebound older adults. Home Care Provid 1998; 3(1):41-46.

      3. Nieman DC, Henson DA, Gusewitch G et al: Physical activity and immune function in elderly women. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1993; 25(7):823-831.

      Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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