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Prevention and Treatment

Individuals can protect themselves against exposure to the bacteria, viruses, and fungi that cause pneumonia by following good hygiene practices. Such practices include:

  • Frequent and thorough hand washing 
  • Respiratory etiquette of coughing or sneezing into a tissue, elbow or sleeve
  • Using disinfectant to clean surfaces that are regularly touched by hands, such as door knobs, handles, keyboards, remotes, and other devices
  • Avoiding touching one's face, eyes, nose, and mouth without washing hands
  • Avoiding close contact with people ill with respiratory infections

Several vaccines are available to help protect against or decrease the risk of certain causes of pneumonia, including Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcal), Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), seasonal influenza, and several others. People should talk to their health practitioners about these options.

Bacterial and mycoplasma pneumonias are typically treated with antibiotics. Fungal infections are treated with antifungal medications. Some infections may require treatment for an extended period of time.

Depending on the cause of the viral pneumonia and the duration of symptoms before seeing a health practitioner, antiviral medications may be given, but often only supportive care is an option.

People with severe cases of pneumonia may require hospitalization, treatment with oxygen or other breathing assistance, and intravenous antimicrobial drugs.

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