Home / Conditions / Pneumonia


What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection and inflammation of the lungs.

How does it occur?

Pneumonia occurs when the lungs are exposed to germs not usually present in the lungs. Your lungs may have become infected because:


Back to the top

What are the symptoms?

Common symptoms of pneumonia are:

The only symptom may be several days or weeks of dry cough, often with extreme tiredness. In the case of older adults, the only early sign of pneumonia may be confusion or a decrease in physical activity.

Back to the top

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will review your symptoms and examine you. Your provider will check for fever and breathing problems. He or she will listen to your lungs.

The following tests help detect pneumonia:

Back to the top

How is it treated?

Your healthcare provider will determine what medicine you need. Most often you will be given antibiotics and instructions for caring for yourself at home.

If your pneumonia is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not kill the virus. However, your provider may start you on antibiotics because it is often not possible to know if pneumonia is caused by bacteria or a virus. If your symptoms are very mild, you may need only rest, fluids and observation, especially if many others in your community are having viral pneumonia.

You may need to stay in the hospital if:

If you are hospitalized:

Back to the top

How long will the effects last?

If the pneumonia is caused by bacteria, usually you will begin to feel better two to three days after you start taking antibiotics. If you are an otherwise healthy person, you should feel close to normal after a week or so. If you are over 60 years old or have other medical problems, it may take longer to feel normal.

If your pneumonia is caused by a virus, you should feel better in just a few days.

Back to the top

How can I take care of myself?

Back to the top