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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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What Are Flu Complications?

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What About Pneumonia? continued...

When you get a bacterial infection with the flu, your symptoms may get better at first. Then they get worse with high fevers, more coughing, and a greenish tinge to what you’re coughing up.

Call your doctor if you have a cough that won’t stop, a bad fever, or if you get shortness of breath or chest pains. The doctor can do tests to find out if you have pneumonia. Antibiotics can treat bacterial pneumonia, but these meds can't treat viral pneumonia.

How Long Does Pneumonia Last?

It can hang around for about 2 weeks, or even longer in young children, elderly adults, and those who have weakened immune systems or ongoing illness like COPD or asthma. Even healthy people may feel tired or weak for a month or more after their lungs clear up.

Is There a Vaccine for Pneumonia?

There are 2 types: pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) for adults and the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) for children.

The adult vaccine protects against 23 types of bacteria that commonly cause pneumonia. Doctors suggest that healthy seniors over 65 get both vaccines. The timing and sequence in which you get them will vary depending on what vaccines you’ve already had.

Some experts say adults younger than 55 should get both vaccines to boost their immune system. The pneumonia vaccine isn’t recommended for pregnant women. But it can help people at increased risk for infections, like those with:

Children under age 2 should get four doses of the PCV13 vaccine. Tots between 2 and 4 who didn’t get the pneumonia vaccine series should get a single vaccine. Children 6 to 18 with health problems should get a single dose of PCV13 whether they had shots already or not.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Call him if you have a high fever and a hard time breathing. Other serious symptoms include:

  • Fever with shaking chills
  • Coughing with blood-tinged mucus from the lungs
  • Trouble breathing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pains
  • Wheezing
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