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Pneumonia

Cross section of a person, showing the the bronchial tubes in each lung.
A diagram of the bronchioles in the lungs.
Pneumonia is a nasty chest infection. It is usually caused by viruses or bacteria. People with pneumonia usually feel pretty awful. They will have a fever and feel hot or cold, they will have a cough (probably bringing up horrible, thick, greeny/yellowy sputum), be off their food, and they might have general aches and pains and be generally miserable! If you have these things it is best to go and see your family doctor, as you may well need some antibiotics to kill the bugs causing the infection. It is important to drink plenty of fluid so you don’t get dehydrated. Paracetamol or Ibuprofen will make you more comfortable, and bring down any fever. Antibiotics usually clear the infection up, but sometimes, if they do not work, or you are really ill, you may need to be admitted to the hospital. Two immunisations (injections, or jabs) can help prevent pneumonia. The first is one is against a bug called Pneumococcus, and you have this jab when you are a baby. The second is the annual flu jab, which is given to people with certain medical problems, such as asthma, which can make them more likely to get chest infections. If you are in one of these “at risk” groups, it is worth getting the flu jab, or at least talking to your family doctor about it. Smokers are also more likely to get chest infections, so, if you smoke, do please try stopping now! Check out under 'cigarettes' on this website how to best quit smoking.