Your lungs are filled with plenty of air sacs and if there is any infection causing swelling of air sacs, it is known as pneumonia. The air sacs are filled with pus like fluid or mucus or phlegm making it difficult for you to breathe. Bacteria and virus are the main organisms that cause pneumonia. Infants and old aged people are more prone to get this infection than healthy adults, since they have weakened immunity. It is easy to treat pneumonia since plenty of good medications are available.
Pneumonia signs may vary from mild to very serious depending on the organism that has caused infection. Symptoms also vary with respect to the age of the person, his immunity status and general health condition. It begins as mild fever, chills with sweating. After some days the person will cough persistently producing thick phlegm or mucus. Some people of old age may report chest pain and difficulty in breathing. Chest pain may get worse when the person tries to cough or take a long breathe. It may cause fatigue and body pain. In certain cases, it can cause nausea and vomiting.
Newborn or infants will not show any indication of pneumonia but they would be restless or looking tired. They may develop mild fever or look energy less most of the time. They will refuse to take food due to breathing difficulty. It is important to visit your doctor if your child has one or more of the above symptoms.
Who are at risk?
People with weakened immunity (infants, children and old aged) and people with underlying health problems or autoimmune disorders are more prone to develop pneumonia than others. Individuals who are receiving chemotherapy or any other chemo drugs for suppressing the immunity may get this disease. People who are hospitalized for long periods or those who are on ventilator support have increased risk of developing pneumonia. The habit of smoking disturbs body’s immune system making one prone to develop many diseases.
Microorganisms like bacteria and virus are the most important cause for pneumonia. Most of the time, our body will prevent these organisms from entering our lungs but when the immunity is weak due to certain health conditions or disease you are likely to develop infection.
Community based pneumonia is the one that a person gets infected when he stays outside a clinic or hospital. Streptococcus pneumoniae, mycoplasmic pneumonia and other virus often cause it. Viral pneumonia is usually mild and can be cured easily except for influenza virus.
Hospital acquired pneumonia is one that a person develops during his hospitalization. Bacterial infection is the main source for this pneumonia and is difficult to be treated. Individuals who are on artificial breathing machines are at high risk of developing this pneumonia. Pneumonia acquired through health care centers is one that affects people who are working in hospitals or clinics or those who are taking frequent treatment in outpatient clinics. Aspiration pneumonia develops through food or drinks.
Pneumonia can cause serious problems in people with weakened immunity. Bacteria may enter the blood escaping from your lungs thus spreading infection to other parts of the body. Sometimes infants may develop lung abscess when the air sacs are filled with pus like liquid. It can cause pleural effusion causing accumulation of fluid in the small space between the lung tissues which has to be removed by surgery. In severe causes it can cause breathing problems warranting hospitalization.
The doctor will examine the general health condition of the patient taking into account his age and immunity status. He would order for chest X-rays for determining the extent of infection. A series of lab tests like blood profile, sputum test and fluid culture is to be done for detecting the type of organism that has caused infection. Bronchoscopy is done in some cases if the doctor suspects some other factor (like blockage) for pneumonia.
The method of treatment depends on the organism that has caused pneumonia. In case of bacterial infection, antibiotics are prescribed. The course of medication has to be completed in full failing which the infection may recur. Most of the symptoms like cough, fever, vomiting and nausea will fade within 2 or 3 days after starting antibiotics. If the person does not feel better in few days then the doctor will change the antibiotic suggesting strong dosage.
Antiviral medications are prescribed for treating viral pneumonia. Apart from these, you will be given Ibuprofen for controlling fever and body pain. Cough syrup is also given for thinning the mucus thus clearing the block of airway. The person affected with pneumonia should take complete rest and get plenty of sleep. Smokers must quit smoking at this stage.
In case of severe complications, the patient will be hospitalized and put on IV fluids to control the infection. Hospitalization may be required for infants, children below 2 years and old aged people and individuals with weakened immunity. If the person has any problem in normal breathing or if he develops sudden low blood pressure then he has to be hospitalized.
Pictures of Pneumonia :
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Pneumonia
Home Care :
Get good sleep and plenty of rest. Drink lot of fluids which helps in loosening the mucus. Follow the instructions of your doctor and complete the course of medication. Take off from school or workplace until you have fully recovered.
You can prevent getting viral pneumonia by taking preventive injection for flu. It is better to take seasonal injection for flu to get maximum protection. Nowadays pneumonia vaccination is available for people who are above 65 years to prevent getting streptococcus pneumonia. A single shot of vaccine is enough to prevent infection. Sometimes the dosage has to be repeated once in five years.
Children below 2 years can get pneumonia vaccination and seasonal flu shots. It is good to follow healthy habits like washing the hands properly before taking food and after using toilet. Quit smoking since it can cause serious damage to your lungs making it prone to many infections.