Pneumonia is a common illness that many people experience, both children and adults. Here is an overview of this illness, its' symptoms, and its' treatment.


Pneumonia is a very common sickness.  In fact, more than three million cases of the lung infection are recorded in the United States each year.  The disease happens when the air sacs in the lungs get fluid or pus in them.  Although easily treatable, pneumonia can be life threatening to young children and adults over the age of 65.  Here are some basic facts you should know about pneumonia.

Is Pneumonia Contagious?

Pneumonia is a very contagious disease.  The sickness is spread through coughs and sneezes.  If you come in contact with someone with pneumonia, try to stay far enough away from them that they won’t cough or sneeze on you.  It is also a good idea to make sure to wash your hands afterwards and wipe down all surfaces.  Certain types of pneumonia can be prevented with vaccines, but everyone should be cautious when coming in close contact with sick patients.

Staying healthy can help lower your risk of contracting pneumonia.  Wash your hands thoroughly and often.  Eat fruits and vegetables, exercise, and get enough sleep.  Stay away from sick people as much as possible.  If you smoke, quitting can help lower your risk of getting pneumonia or other lung diseases.

Pneumonia Symptoms

People with pneumonia may experience a variety of symptoms.  The most common ones are coughing, which is sometimes accompanied by phlegm, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing.  Someone experiencing these symptoms should visit their doctor, as pneumonia must be diagnosed by a medical professional.  Similar symptoms may actually be bronchitis or types of flu.

Other symptoms that may indicate pneumonia include:

·         sharp chest pain

·         dehydration

·         fatigue

·         loss of appetite

·         clammy skin

·         sweating

·         fast or shallow breathing

·         shortness of breath

·         wheezing

·         fast heart rate

·         general feeling of sickness

Pneumonia Treatments

Pneumonia is treated with antibiotics.  Most common antibiotics that fight infections can be used to cure pneumonia, including ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, doxycycline, azithromycin, ceftriaxone, cefpodoxime, and moxifloxacin.

Penicillin is also sometimes used as a pneumonia treatment.  These medicines include amoxicillin and piperacillin/ tazobactam.  If you get pneumonia, your doctor will determine which type of antibiotic is best for you depending on your medical history and any allergies you might have.

Severe cases of pneumonia may be treated with oxygen therapy, which is where extra oxygen is provided for the lungs when people have trouble breathing.  Oral re-hydration therapy may also be used if the patient is dehydrated.  Some pneumonia patients may receive antibiotics and other fluids directly into their veins through an IV.

Pneumonia is often healed within a week or two, although a cough lingers in some patients. 

Where should I go if I think I have pneumonia?

Most pneumonia can be diagnosed and treated by your primary care doctor.  This includes most walk in clinics.  Infectious disease doctors can also diagnose and treat pneumonia.

For more severe cases or for patients who often get pneumonia, a specialist may be required.  This doctor could be a Pulmonologist, someone who treats respiratory tract diseases, or a respiratory therapist, who works with patients who have trouble breathing.  If you think you have pneumonia and also have certain risk factors such as age or a weakened immune system, visit your hospital for treatment.

BASS Primary Care – a multi-service provider

If you or a family member think they have pneumonia, look no further than BASS Primary Care or a diagnosis and treatment. The physicians at BASS are emergency room trained. The center has a broad range of medical services and provides quick and accurate diagnoses. Call (925) 962-9120 to make an appointment, or walk in any weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

At BASS Primary Care Walk-in Clinic, it's Your Health, Your Schedule.