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Bacterial Pneumonia (cont.)

Bacterial Pneumonia Follow-up

Depending on the severity of pneumonia, the patient may need a follow-up visit. This is especially important because many bacteria have developed the ability to resist certain antibiotics. The doctor may need to adjust the dose of the patient's medication or change to another antibiotic.

  • A repeat chest X-ray in the weeks after symptoms have resolved may be ordered to confirm the infection has resolved, and to assure that the chest X-ray is clear of any abnormalities. Some pneumonias can occur when an airway is blocked by a growth or foreign body that has aspirated into the lung. The X-ray may not appear free of pneumonia if one of these events has occurred.
  • Good communication with the doctor is the most important step in follow-up care. The doctor should tell the patient how long to expect the fever to last and when the cough should begin to resolve. The patient should tell the doctor he or she is not improving as told.

Is It Possible to Prevent Bacterial Pneumonia?

  • Vaccines are available that prevent certain types of pneumonia. However, since there are many bacteria that cause pneumonia, a person may contract pneumonia despite receiving the vaccine.
  • Pneumovax and Pnu-Immune are vaccines to prevent Streptococcus pneumoniae infection. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people in the following groups should ask their doctor about receiving the pneumococcus immunization:
    • people age 65 and older,
    • people with serious long-term health problems such as heart failure, liver failure (cirrhosis of the liver), diabetes, or lung disease (other than asthma),
    • people with lowered immunity due to cancer, chemotherapy, removal or diseases of the spleen, chronic kidney problems, or have had an organ or bone marrow transplant, or
    • people who are Alaskan Native Americas or certain other Native American populations.
  • In 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed a new vaccine, Prevnar 13, for the prevention of pneumococcal disease in children.
  • This vaccine is recommended for healthy infants under the age of 2 and for children between the ages of 2 and 5 who have not previously been vaccinated and who are at highest risk for developing pneumococcal disease, such as those with HIV/AIDS, have certain chronic diseases, and have decreased immune function.
  • More recently, the candidates for Prevnar 13 have significantly expanded to include all adults over 65 years of age. It is also recommended for adults ages 19 and over if they have a condition that may weaken their immune system.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/24/2016

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