Pneumonia is a lung infection that can make you very sick. You may cough, run a fever, and have a hard time breathing. For most people, pneumonia can be treated at home. It often clears up in 2 to 3 weeks. But older adults, babies, and people with other diseases can become very ill. They may need to be in the hospital.
You can get pneumonia in your daily life, such as at school or work. This is called community-associated pneumonia. You can also get it when you are in a hospital or nursing home. This is called healthcare-associated pneumonia. It may be more severe because you already are ill. This topic focuses on pneumonia you get in your daily life.
Pneumonia usually starts when you breathe the germs into your lungs. You may be more likely to get the disease after having a cold or the flu. These illnesses make it hard for your lungs to fight infection, so it is easier to get pneumonia. Having a long-term, or chronic, disease like asthma, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes also makes you more likely to get pneumonia.
Pneumonia is a common illness that affects millions of people each year in the United States. Germs called bacteria, viruses, and fungi may cause pneumonia. In adults, bacteria are the most common cause of pneumonia.
Ways you can get pneumonia include:
- Bacteria and viruses living in your nose, sinuses, or mouth may spread to your lungs.
- You may breathe some of these germs directly into your lungs.
- You breathe in (inhale) food, liquids, vomit, or fluids from the mouth into your lungs (aspiration pneumonia)
Pneumonia can be caused by many types of germs.
- The most common type of bacteria is Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus).
- Atypical pneumonia, often called walking pneumonia, is caused by other bacteria.
- A fungus called Pneumocystis jiroveci can cause pneumonia in people whose immune system is not working well, especially people with advanced HIV infection.
- Viruses, such as the flu virus, are also a common cause of pneumonia.
- Risk factors that increase your chance of getting pneumonia include:
- Chronic lung disease (COPD, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis)
- Cigarette smoking
- Dementia, stroke, brain injury, cerebral palsy, or other brain disorders
- Immune system problem (during cancer treatment, or due to HIV/AIDS, organ transplant, or other diseases)
- Other serious illnesses, such as heart disease, liver cirrhosis, or diabetes mellitus
- Recent surgery or trauma
- Surgery to treat cancer of the mouth, throat, or neck
Symptoms of pneumonia caused by bacteria usually come on quickly. They may include:
- Cough. You will likely cough up mucus (sputum) from your lungs. Mucus may be rusty or green or tinged with blood.
- Fast breathing and feeling short of breath.
- Shaking and “teeth-chattering” chills.
- Chest pain that often feels worse when you cough or breathe in.
- Fast heartbeat.
- Feeling very tired or very weak.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- When you have mild symptoms, your doctor may call this “walking pneumonia.”
Older adults may have different, fewer, or milder symptoms. They may not have a fever. Or they may have a cough but not bring up mucus. The main sign of pneumonia in older adults may be a change in how well they think. Confusion or delirium is common. Or, if they already have a lung disease, that disease may get worse.
Symptoms caused by viruses are the same as those caused by bacteria. But they may come on slowly and often are not as obvious or as bad.
Tests to identity Pneumonia
The health care provider will listen for crackles or abnormal breath sounds when listening to your chest with a stethoscope. Tapping on your chest wall (percussion) helps the health care provider listen and feel for abnormal sounds in your chest.
If pneumonia is suspected, the health care provider will likely order a chest x-ray.
Other tests that may be ordered include:
- Arterial blood gases to see if enough oxygen is getting into your blood from the lungs
- Blood and sputum cultures to look for the germ that may be causing the pneumonia
- CBC to check white blood cell count
- CT scan of the chest
- Bronchoscopy–a flexible tube with a lighted camera on the end passed down to your lungs, in select cases
- Thoracentesis–removing fluid from the space between the outside lining of the lungs and the chest wall
Your doctor must first decide whether you need to be in the hospital. If you are treated in the hospital, you will receive:
- Fluids and antibiotics through your veins
- Oxygen therapy
- Breathing treatments (possibly)
- If you are diagnosed with a bacterial form of pneumonia, it is important that you are started on antibiotics very soon after you are admitted. If you have viral pneumonia, you will not receive antibiotics. This is because antibiotics do not kill viruses.
- You may receive other medicines, such as antivirals, if you have the flu.
You are more likely to be admitted to the hospital if you:
- Have another serious medical problem
- Have severe symptoms
- Are unable to care for yourself at home, or are unable to eat or drink
- Are older than 65
- Have been taking antibiotics at home and are not getting better
- Many people can be treated at home. If so, your doctor may tell you to take medicines such as antibiotics.
When taking antibiotics:
- Do not miss any doses. Take the medicine until it is gone, even when you start to feel better.
- Do not take cough medicine or cold medicine unless your doctor says it is OK. Coughing helps your body get rid of mucus from your lungs.
- Breathing warm, moist (wet) air helps loosen the sticky mucus that may make you feel like you are choking. These things may help:
- Place a warm, wet washcloth loosely over your nose and mouth.
- Fill a humidifier with warm water and breathe in the warm mist.
- Take a couple of deep breaths two or three times every hour. Deep breaths will help open up your lungs.
- Tap your chest gently a few times a day while lying with your head lower than your chest. This helps bring up mucus from the lungs so that you can cough it out.
- Drink plenty of liquids, as long as your health care provider says it is OK.
- Drink water, juice, or weak tea
- Drink at least 6 to 10 cups a day
- Do not drink alcohol
- Get plenty of rest when you go home. If you have trouble sleeping at night, take naps during the day.
When to contact a medical professional
- Cough that brings up bloody or rust-colored mucus
- Breathing (respiratory) symptoms that get worse
- Chest pain that gets worse when you cough or breathe in
- Fast or painful breathing
- Night sweats or unexplained weight loss
- Shortness of breath, shaking chills, or persistent fevers
- Signs of pneumonia and a weak immune system (for example such as with HIV or chemotherapy)
- Worsening of symptoms after initial improvement
You can help prevent pneumonia by following the measures below.
Wash your hands often, especially:
- Before preparing and eating food
- After blowing your nose
- After going to the bathroom
- After changing a baby’s diaper
- After coming in contact with people who are sick
- Do not smoke. Tobacco damages your lung’s ability to fight infection.
Vaccines may help prevent some types of pneumonia. Be sure to get the following vaccines:
- Flu vaccine can help prevent pneumonia caused by the flu virus.
- Pneumococcal vaccine lowers your chances of getting pneumonia from Streptococcus pneumoniae.
- Vaccines are even more important for older adults and people with diabetes, asthma, emphysema, HIV, cancer, people with organ transplants, or other long-term conditions.Please like us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/Wikidok360/
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Source: medlineplus, medicinenet, webmd