Charter Health PC

Internal Medicine & Primary Care located in Salem, MA

When experiencing cough, fever, and shortness of breath it is important to be evaluated to determine if you may have pneumonia or other infection of the respiratory system. The patient-centered team at Charter Health PC in Lynn, Massachusetts, will help you be evaluated promptly and recover as fast as possible. Don’t risk your health by waiting it out, get relief now! Book your appointment using the online scheduler or by calling the office today.

Pneumonia Q & A

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection of one or both of the lungs that causes the air spaces to become inflamed and fill with fluid and pus. Pneumonia is usually caused by a bacteria or virus and can be a very serious illness requiring urgent medical evaluation and treatment. Pneumonia affects people of all ages. It is more common in those with other medical problems, those with weak immune systems, and is more common as people get older.

What are the symptoms of pneumonia?

Pneumonia symptoms can often by the cause (bacterial, viral, other) and from person to person, but its most common symptoms include:

  • Fever, shaking, chills, and sweating
  • Cough that often produces mucus (phlegm) that is yellow, green, grey, or bloody
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain with deep breathing or coughing
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

What causes pneumonia?

Most often, pneumonia is caused by inhaling bacteria, viruses or fungi into the lungs. Other types of pneumonia occur such as aspiration pneumonia caused by inhalation of food particles.

Bacterial pneumonia

The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia is by the Streptococcus pneumoniae. There are vaccines available that provide immunity against this Streptococcus species. There are other types of bacteria that cause pneumonia as well and bacterial pneumonia is a common complication of influenza (the flu). Most bacterial cases of pneumonia usually cause an infection of just one of the lungs. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial pneumonia.

Viral pneumonia

Viruses that cause the common cold, as well as the influenza virus, can cause pneumonia. Viral pneumonia often involves both lungs and are usually not very severe. Antibiotics will not treat viral pneumonia. Viral pneumonia caused by influenza can be treated with antiviral medication. There are no antiviral medications for pneumonia caused by common cold viruses. Viral pneumonia is most often treated with rest and fluids.

Regardless of the cause of your illness, your Charter Health PC care providers are here to provide prompt diagnosis and rapid treatment.

How is pneumonia diagnosed?

Pneumonia diagnosis usually starts with your description of symptoms, followed by a physical exam and often a chest X-ray. Laboratory tests are sometimes ordered such as a complete blood count and antigen testing for certain bacteria.

How is pneumonia treated?

Your Charter Health PC provider will customize your care based on the type of pneumonia and your symptoms. Antibiotics will be prescribed for bacterial pneumonia. Viral pneumonia caused by the common cold viruses is not treated with antivirals. The influenza virus is treated with antiviral medication. We may recommend cough suppressants and fever reducers to help you feel more comfortable, too.

Your Charter Health PC care provider can recommend some pneumonia prevention measures to reduce the chance of recurrence, as well. This includes flu vaccination yearly, along with the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccination if you're 65 or older or younger if you have other medical conditions.

For expert treatment of pneumonia, use the online scheduler or call Charter Health PC to book your appointment today.