NICE pneumonia guideline


This summary covers diagnosis and management of pneumonia in adults, including assessment and treatment.

Every year between 0.5% and 1% of adults in the UK will have community-acquired pneumonia. Pneumonia is caused by an infection of tiny air sacs in the lungs; in patients with pneumonia these air sacs become inflamed and filled with fluid, affecting lung function. Diagnosis of pneumonia is based on symptoms and signs of an acute lower respiratory tract infection, which include fever, breathlessness and chest discomfort or pain. Most pneumonia develops outside hospital, in the community (community‑acquired pneumonia), but sometimes people develop pneumonia while they are in hospital with another problem (hospital‑acquired pneumonia).

This guideline covers diagnosing and managing community- and hospital-acquired pneumonia in adults, including risk assessment, treatment and patient information. It aims to improve accurate assessment and diagnosis of pneumonia to help guide antibiotic prescribing and ensure that people receive the right treatment.

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