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Bacterial Pneumonia

Next Steps

Depending on the severity of your pneumonia, you may need follow-up visits. This is especially important because many bacteria have developed the ability to resist certain antibiotics. Your doctor may need to adjust the dose of your medication or change it to another antibiotic.

Sometimes you need a repeat chest X-ray 4-6 weeks after your symptoms go away just to make sure that your infection is gone. Good communication with your doctor is your most important follow-up. Your doctor should tell you how long to expect your fever to last and when your cough should start to go away. Tell your doctor if you are not improving as quickly as expected.

Prevention

Vaccines are available that prevent certain types of pneumonia. Yet there are so many bacteria that cause pneumonia, you are not guaranteed to avoid it even with an immunization shot.

Pneumovax is an immunization to prevent Streptococcus pneumoniae infection. You should get this shot if you are older than 65 years, or if your spleen was removed for any reason. You should also get this shot if your spleen doesn't work right, for instance, if you have sickle cell disease. Pneumovax is also recommended if your are under 65 and have chronic lung or heart disease, diabetes, certain kidney or liver diseases, alcoholism and some other conditions. It may also be recommended if you are a smoker. 

Outlook

Pneumonia and influenza is the ninth most common cause of death in the United States . Most people with bacterial pneumonia get better with antibiotics. But some people develop very serious complications such as sepsis (blood poisoning), meningitis, and lung failure.

There is no way to predict who is at risk for severe complications. In general, if you have a weak immune system, you are more likely to be sicker.

Synonyms and Keywords

walking pneumonia, bacterial pneumonia, chest congestion, chemical pneumonia, viral pneumonia

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WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on June 02, 2014

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