Pneumonia is a lung infection that occurs deep within the lungs. The infection affects your lungs’ tiny air sacs (alveoli). Pneumonia is not the same as bronchitis, which is an infection of the lungs’ air passageways. Bronchitis is an infection of the air airways.
When you have pneumonia, you should:
- Mucus is generally coughed up and a fever is present.
- You may experience chest pain, cold, or difficulty breathing.
- Your symptoms might range from moderate to severe (often referred to as “walking pneumonia”).
- Young children, the elderly, and persons with underlying respiratory conditions such as COPD generally have more severe symptoms (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Although the majority of people recover, pneumonia can be fatal.
- Pneumonia kills over 60,000 people in the United States each year.
What is the cause of pneumonia?
Pneumonia can be caused by a variety of bacteria, including the following:
- Viruses are infectious agents (most common)
- The germs are usually transmitted from one person to the next. Germs can enter your mouth, nose, or throat if you touch something with germs on it. In most cases, your body fights pathogens. However, germs can sneak into your lungs and create an infection.
What are the elements that increase your chances of acquiring pneumonia?
Anyone can acquire pneumonia, but it’s more likely if your immune system is impaired, such as if you’re:
Whether you’re young or old,
Taking some medications (such as corticosteroids or chemotherapy drugs)
Have you been weakened by HIV as a result of other major illnesses? (such as diabetes or heart failure)
Other pneumonia risk factors include:
- Spending a long period in a hospital (where you’re exposed to a lot of germs)
- Being hooked up to a respirator (ventilator)
- Having a major lung condition, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
What are some of the signs and symptoms of pneumonia?
- Feeling drained?
- Chills and fever (shivering so hard your teeth chatter)
- A cough that may or may not result in the production of mucus
- Breathing problems (you don’t feel like you’re getting enough air)
- Your chest hurts.
In those who are very old, the symptoms may be slightly different:
- There’s a chance they don’t have a fever.
- Older people may be perplexed and unable to think coherently.
Is it possible for doctors to know whether I have pneumonia?
Your doctor will undertake the following to determine if you have pneumonia:
- As you breathe, pay attention to your lungs.
- Usually, a chest x-ray is ordered.
- If you have pneumonia and are sent to the hospital, doctors will normally do blood tests and send samples of your sputum (the gunk you cough up) to a lab.
What methods do doctors use to treat pneumonia?
Doctors use the following medications to treat pneumonia:
- Antibiotics that are most effective against the bacteria causing the problem (but not all germs that cause pneumonia can be killed by antibiotics)
- Anti-fever and anti-pain medications
- Extra fluids or oxygen may be required on occasion.
- If you smoke or are older, you may require a chest x-ray 6 weeks following treatment to check sure the pneumonia is gone.
During therapy, the majority of people are able to remain at home. Some patients may need to stay in the hospital, such as those who:
- Are you a child or an elderly person?
- Have a significant medical condition, such as cancer?
- Experiencing severe pneumonia symptoms
How can I avoid contracting pneumonia?
- Stop smoking if you do.
- Because the flu can lead to pneumonia, you should get a flu vaccine (shot) every year.
Inquire with your doctor if you require a pneumonia vaccine, which is indicated for:
All children under the age of two Adults 65 and older People of any age who consume cigarettes or have specific health concerns.