Pneumocystis Pneumonia and AIDS

Overview

Pneumocystis is a fungus that can sometimes cause pneumonia in people who have AIDS. Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. Pneumonia caused by pneumocystis can make it hard to breathe and to get enough oxygen into the blood. Pneumocystis pneumonia, or PCP, is the most common serious infection in people with AIDS.

PCP can be prevented with medicine. If you get PCP, it can be treated. Antibiotics can get rid of the infection. You should have your blood tested regularly to check the strength of your immune system and to help your doctor decide if you need to take drugs to prevent PCP.

How can you care for yourself if you get PCP?

  • Take your antibiotics as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Take all your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you have any problems with your medicine.
  • If you are taking IV medicine at home, follow your doctor's instructions.
  • Get plenty of rest and sleep. You may feel weak and tired for a while, but your energy level will improve with time.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Choose water and other clear liquids until you feel better. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Take care of your cough so you can rest. A cough that brings up mucus from your lungs is common with pneumonia. It is one way your body gets rid of the infection. But if coughing keeps you from resting or causes severe fatigue and chest-wall pain, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may suggest that you take a medicine to reduce the cough.
  • Use a humidifier to increase the moisture in the air. Dry air makes coughing worse. Follow the instructions for cleaning the machine.
  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around you. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

Credits

Current as of: February 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Peter Shalit MD, PhD - Internal Medicine