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All you Need to Know

When experiencing cough, fever, and shortness of breath it is important to be evaluated to determine if you may have pneumonia or any other infection of the respiratory system. The patient-centered team at Charter Health PC in Salem, MA 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 by calling our office at 978-354-4611.

What is Pneumonia and How Common is it?

Pneumonia is an infection of one or both lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi leading to the air spaces becoming inflamed and filled with fluid and pus. The infection is spread person to person by coughing and sneezing. It’s the sixth leading cause of death and causes over 1 million hospitalizations a year in the United States.

Some risk factors include smoking, advanced age, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and not receiving recommended vaccines.

Pneumonia symptoms and diagnosis

Symptoms can vary but most often include two or more of the following:

  • Fever, shaking chills and sweating
  • Cough that often produces mucus (phlegm) that may be yellow, green, grey, or bloody
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain with breathing
  • Confusion

A patient can be diagnosed by taking a history of your symptoms, measuring vital signs, listening to the lungs with a stethoscope, and getting a chest X-ray. Laboratory tests often include a complete blood count and sometimes tests that are specific for certain viruses and bacteria. Charter Health clinicians are highly experienced in diagnosing and treating this medical common condition in both primary care offices and in the hospital. If you have these symptoms you should call us today.

Bacterial Pneumonia Treatment and Prevention

Many different species of bacteria can cause pneumonia. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial pneumonia. Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most commonly identified cause of bacterial pneumonia and is preventable by vaccines (PCV13, PPSV23).  Most often it can involve just one of the lungs.

Viral Pneumonia

Viruses that cause the common cold, as well as influenza and coronavirus (Covid-19), can cause viral pneumonia. This can often involve both lungs. There are a few antiviral medications that help treat this illness caused by influenza and COVID-19. 

The relationship between viral infections and getting a bacterial pneumonia

Respiratory viral infections like influenza and coronavirus put the person at higher risk for developing bacterial pneumonia.  Around the world, including in the United States, a significant percentage of people who die from influenza developed what we call a “secondary” bacterial pneumonia. 

Preventing Pneumonia

Luckily, this illness is preventable. First, you must have good hand hygiene by washing your hands regularly, continue regular exercise, avoid smoking and not drinking too much alcohol, and getting your annual influenza (Flu) vaccine are the most important prevention measures. In addition, pneumococcal vaccines (PPSV23 and PCV13) help prevent bacterial pneumonia caused by streptococcus. We also strongly recommend getting your annual influenza vaccine in the Fall time. 

Call Charter Health today at 978-354-4611 to establish a partnership for your long-term health and wellness.

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55 Highland Hall, Suite 304, Salem, MA 01970


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