Pneumococcal is a serious disease that causes much sickness and death. In fact, pneumococcal disease kills more people in the United States each year than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined.

People with infectious pneumonia often have a cough producing greenish or yellow sputum and a high fever that may be conducted by shaking chills. Shortness of breath is also common. People with pneumonia may cough up blood, experience headaches, or develop sweaty and clammy skin. Other possible symptoms are loss of appetite, fatigue, blueness of the skin, nausea, vomiting, mood swings, and joint pains or muscle aches. In some people, particularly the elderly and those who are debilitated, bacterial pneumonia may follow influenza or even a common cold. People with weak immune systems at greatest risk of pneumonia. Sometimes pneumonia can lead to additional complications. Complications are more frequently associated with bacterial pneumonia than with viral pneumonia.

Pneumonia is caused by the inhalation of infected microorganisms (tiny, single-celled living organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi or protozoa) spread through contact with an infected person. The microorganisms enter the body through the mouth, nose and eyes. If the body's resistance is down, the natural process of fighting off diseases is weakened and the microorganisms are free to spread into the lungs and the lungs' air sacs.

Antibiotics usually work well with younger, otherwise healthy people with strong immune systems. You most likely will see some improvement in symptoms within 2 to 3 days. Unless you get worse during this time, your doctor usually will not change your treatment for at least 3 days. If there is no improvement or if your symptoms get worse, you may need culture and sensitivity testing. These tests help identify the organism that is causing your symptoms and determine whether the bacteria may be resistant to the antibiotic.

Mycoplasma pneumonias are treated with antibiotics. Even so, recovery may not be immediate. In some cases fatigue may continue long after the infection itself has cleared. Many cases of mycoplasma pneumonia go undiagnosed and untreated. The signs and symptoms mimic those of a bad chest cold, so some people never seek medical attention.

Rest in bed until body core temperature returns to normal (98.6 degrees F or 37 degrees C) and chest pains and breathing problems are gone. Drink six to eight glasses of liquids daily to help keep mucous thin and easy to cough up.

Most patients with mild pneumonia can be treated at home with oral antibiotics. Patients should be sure to drink plenty of liquids. Coughing should not be suppressed, since this is an important reflex for clearing the lungs. Some physicians advise taking expectorants, such as guaifenesin (Breonesin, Glycotuss, Glytuss, Hytuss, Naldecon Senior EX, Robitussin), to loosen sputum. For severe pain, codeine or other stronger pain relievers may be prescribed. It should be noted; however, that codeine and other narcotics suppress coughing, so they should be used with care in pneumonia and often require monitoring.

When the inflammation occurs in the alveoli (microscopic air sacs in the lungs), they fill with fluid. Your lungs become less elastic and cannot take oxygen into the blood or remove carbon dioxide from the blood as efficiently as usual.

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