What is healthcare-associated pneumonia?
Healthcare-associated pneumonia (nosocomial pneumonia) is pneumonia that you get when you are in a hospital or nursing home. Experts generally consider it a more serious illness than pneumonia that people get in daily life (community-associated pneumonia). This is because the person with healthcare-associated pneumonia may already have a serious illness. Healthcare-associated pneumonia is also often caused by bacteria that are more resistant to antibiotics. So healthcare-associated pneumonia may be harder to treat.
You are more likely to get healthcare-associated pneumonia if you:
- Have another serious condition, especially another lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Are not eating enough healthy foods and are malnourished.
- Have a weak immune system.
- Have been in the hospital for a long time.
- Are taking many antibiotics.
What are the symptoms and how is it diagnosed?
Symptoms of healthcare-associated pneumonia include:
- Cough that produces mucus (also called sputum) from the lungs. Mucus may be rusty or green or tinged with blood.
- Fever, chills, and sweating, which may be less common in older adults.
- Fast, often shallow, breathing and the feeling of being short of breath.
- Chest wall pain that is often made worse by coughing or breathing in.
- Fast heartbeat.
- Feeling very tired or weak.
It is important to diagnose the condition quickly. If your doctor thinks you have healthcare-associated pneumonia, you will have a chest X-ray. And your doctor will examine a sample of your mucus and blood.
How is healthcare-associated pneumonia treated?
Doctors use antibiotics to treat healthcare-associated pneumonia. Your doctor will probably give you an antibiotic that kills many different bacteria (wide-spectrum) immediately. If he or she can identify the type of bacteria causing the infection, your antibiotic may be changed to target it.
Current as of: June 9, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Brian O'Brien, MD, FRCPC - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
R. Steven Tharratt, MD, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine