Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

Pneumonia

Overview

Pneumonia is a lung infection. These infections can be caused by bacteria or viruses. They can also be caused by fungi or by your immune system.

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing

When your lungs become infected, the air spaces (alveoli) can become inflamed and fill with fluid. This can make breathing difficult. This is especially problematic for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart disease.

Pneumonia can often be treated with antibiotics. It often improves in 2 to 6 weeks. However, in older adults, babies, and people with other diseases, pneumonia can be very serious. These people may need to be in the hospital until they improve.

Healthy and inflamed lung.


Causes and Risk Factors

Pneumonia can be caused by a number of different bacteria or viruses. It may follow or occur with another illness, such as:

  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Bronchitis

Rarely, a fungus may cause pneumonia.

Pneumonia itself is not generally thought to be contagious; however, the cold or flu that caused the original illness may still be spread to others.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of pneumonia include:

  • Cough
  • Fever of 100.5°F or greater
  • Chest pain when you breathe in
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing up sputum (mucus) that is green, yellow, or rust-colored 
  • Shaking chills 
  • Rapid breathing and/or heart rate
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Mental confusion, especially in older adults

Call us if you experience these symptoms all the time, or if you feel you are getting sicker.

Diagnosis

We will:

  • Ask you about your symptoms
  • Examine you
  • Order a chest X-ray

We may order additional tests to determine the cause of pneumonia.

Treatment

It is important to treat pneumonia in order to prevent your lung function from getting worse. If untreated this can lead to major complications and even death.

Most cases of pneumonia can be treated at home. However, if you are very sick, we may admit you to the hospital.

Pneumonia is usually treated with:

  • Antibiotics
  • Bronchodilators to help your breathing. These medications open the breathing passages and relax the muscles.

Recovering from Pneumonia

You will need time to recover from pneumonia. The younger and healthier you are, the faster your recovery will be.

These steps will support your treatment and recovery.

Drink at least 8 cups a day of fluid (unless you have been advised otherwise by your doctor). Drink water, herbal teas, or clear broth. Avoid drinks with caffeine. Fluids thin your mucus so that you can cough it up and keep your lungs clear. Tell us if you have fluid retention issues or leg swelling.

Balance activity with rest. Your immune system needs rest in order to fight infection.

Eat nutritious foods. Your body needs vitamins and minerals to recover.

Hold a pillow to your chest when you cough to avoid pulling muscles or injuring your ribs.

Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for a fever. Take one to two 500 mg tablets or capsules every 6 to 8 hours. Do not exceed 3,000 mg (6 tablets or capsules) a day. If you have liver problems, call us before you take acetaminophen.

Use your incentive spirometer to take deep breaths, expand your lungs, and clear away pneumonia.

Prevention

There are many things you can do at home to prevent becoming ill with pneumonia.

Stop smoking. Smoking damages the lungs and the immune system. 

Get vaccinated. Get the pneumococcal and flu vaccines if you have a chronic condition or if you are over the age of 65.

Keep away from crowds. Avoid exposure to crowds and people who are sick, especially during the winter.

Keep your hands clean. Use an alcohol-based hand cleaner often when you touch surfaces that have been touched by others, or wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 10 to 15 seconds.

Avoid dust and air pollutants. Stay inside and use an air conditioner with a clean filter when the air quality is bad. Avoid weed blowers, fires, and toxic fumes.

Keep your immune system strong. Get plenty of rest and get mild to moderate exercise on a regular basis.

Related Health Tools:

Interactive Programs
Videos

If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder.

This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.