Pneumonia is an infection of the lung tissue itself. It usually starts with a cough and cold symptoms but then worsens. People with pneumonia usually have a fever over 101 and sometimes the fever can get really high, 104-105. Pneumonia is a serious infection and will need antibiotics. People still die from pneumonia so it is important to seek medical treatment and take the medications that are prescribed. Otherwise healthy individuals with a cough or cold and a high fever can safely seek care at their doctor’s office or an urgent care. If a person has significant shortness of breath, has underlying medical conditions, is elderly or very young (under 2), and is suspected of having a pneumonia, they should seek care at an emergency room.
Pneumonia is typically diagnosed by physical exam and a chest x-ray. The treatment usually involves an injection of antibiotics followed by antibiotics taken orally. If the pneumonia is severe or there are other significant medical problems, hospitalization may be necessary. Other treatments include rest, plenty of liquids, and medications to help the symptoms. Tylenol or ibuprofen are good for reducing fevers. Cough medications may be useful either over-the-counter cough medications or prescription cough medications.
Pneumonia is contagious and it will take 24-48 hours after antibiotics are started before the person with pneumonia is no longer contagious. Covering the mouth and nose when you cough and good frequent hand washing is very important to prevent the pneumonia from spreading. People often get pneumonia and do not know where they caught it. This is because the infection can be acquired from touching something like a door handle or a shopping cart after someone who is sick previously touched it. If you have pneumonia it is best not to go out while you are contagious.
The fever usually goes away in 48 hours after treatment. About this time people will start to feel somewhat better. It will take at least a week or longer to fully recover. Energy level is typically the last thing to return to normal after a pneumonia. It is very important to rest during the recovery. Over exerting oneself may cause the symptoms to relapse making the recovery take much longer. People with pneumonia will usually need at least a week or more off work or school.