Skip to content

    Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

    Font Size

    What Is Bacterial Pneumonia?


    There are two kinds of shots for bacterial pneumonia:

    PCV13 (Prevnar 13) is for:

    • People 65 or older
    • Kids under 5 years
    • People who have a high risk of bacterial pneumonia

    PPSV23 (Pneumovax) is for:

    • People 65 or older
    • Children older than 2 who have a high risk of bacterial pneumonia
    • People between 19 and 64 who smoke or have asthma

    Talk to your doctor to find out if you or your child should get a shot.

    Besides getting shots, you can lower your risk of getting bacterial pneumonia by doing these things:


    Your doctor might be able to tell if you have bacterial pneumonia just by examining you and asking questions about your symptoms and general health. He’ll probably listen to your lungs with a stethoscope. That will allow him to hear sounds that show there’s fluid in your lungs. But if he’s not sure, you might have to get a chest X-ray.

    Some people may need extra tests. These might include:

    • Pulse oximetry (a small gizmo clipped to your finger that checks for enough oxygen in your blood)
    • Blood tests
    • Tests of the gunk you cough up (“sputum”)
    • CT scan to look more closely at your lungs


    Your doctor probably will prescribe antibiotics. It’s very important that you finish all of these. Otherwise the bacteria may not all be killed and you could get sick all over again. Your doctor might also suggest medication for pain and fever.

    Other things you can do to help yourself get better:

    • Get lots of rest.
    • Drink plenty of fluids (they’ll loosen up the gunk in your lungs so you can cough it out).
    • Use a humidifier or take a warm bath (more gunk-loosening).
    • Don’t smoke.
    • Stay home until your fever goes down and you aren’t coughing anything out.

    Today on WebMD

    man coughing
    You may not even know you have it.
    blood clot
    Signs of this potentially fatal complication.
    man coughing
    When a cold becomes bronchitis.
    human lungs
    Causes behind painful breathing, fluid buildup.

    chest x-ray
    Bronchitis Overview
    Copd Myth Fact Quiz
    Energy Boosting Foods

    woman coughing
    Lung xray and caduceus