PNEUMONIA: What You Need to Know!

Pneumonia is an infection that inflames your lung’s air sacs and may fill it up with fluids or pus, causing cough, fever, chills, and difficulty in breathing. Pneumonia is caused by various pathogens like virus, bacteria, and fungi. Pneumonia can occur in young, healthy people, but it is most dangerous for older adults, infants, and people with an impaired immune system.

Causes or types

  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Viral pneumonia
  • Fungal pneumonia
  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Hospital-acquired pneumonia

Risk groups

  • Babies/young children
  • Elderly
  • Smokers
  • People with asthma or cystic fibrosis
  • People with heart/kidney/liver conditions
  • People with a weak immune system

Symptoms

Symptoms vary depending on the type of pneumonia and underlying diseases.

Common symptoms are:

  • Cough with/without mucus
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Fever
  • Sweating/shivering
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of appetite

Less common symptoms are:

  • Coughing up blood
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Wheezing
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Joint/muscle pain

 Diagnosis

Pneumonia is diagnosed by:

  • Blood tests
  • Chest x-ray
  • Pulse oximetry
  • Sputum test
  • CT scan
  • Arterial blood gas test
  • Pleural fluid cultures
  • Bronchoscopy

Treatment

It varies in person to person depending on the type and severity.

  • People with bacterial pneumonia are treated with antibiotics
  • People with viral pneumonia are usually treated with antiviral medications, rest, and plenty of fluids.
  • Antifungal medications are prescribed for patients with fungal pneumonia
  • Medications for management of symptoms such as reducing fever, ache, pains, coughs are given
  • Getting enough rest and staying hydrated help manage the symptoms

Is pneumonia dangerous?

Pneumonia can range from mild to severe or life-threatening condition and can sometimes lead to death. If not treated well and if the symptoms are ignored, hospitalization may be required, especially if a person has a weakened immune system or other serious illnesses.

In the hospital, patients are generally treated with intravenous antibiotics and fluids. They may need a supplemental oxygen supply.

So, be aware of symptoms that worry you, especially if you have any risk factor. Also, remember that pneumonia can follow other respiratory infections, so be aware of any new or worsening symptoms that you already have or have recently fallen sick.

Prevention

Vaccinations can help prevent infections that can potentially cause pneumonia. These include Pneumococcal, Influenza, Haemophilus influenza (hib), Pertussis, Measles, Varicella.

Also, Read When Can You Say That You Are Getting Enough Vitamin D?    

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