What You Need To Know About Pneumonia

Introduction

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. It causes an inflammation in the microscopic air sacs of the lungs, which are called alveoli. The alveoli fill with fluid or pus, making it difficult to breathe.

Causes and Risk Factors

Pneumonia can be caused, more commonly by bacteria or viruses and less commonly by fungi. Bacterial pneumonia is the most common type in adults.

The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Respiratory viruses are often the cause of viral pneumonia, especially in young children and older people. Viral pneumonia is usually not serious and lasts for a shorter time than bacterial pneumonia.

Fungi can cause pneumonia in people who inhale large amounts of the organisms. They can also cause pneumonia in people with chronic diseases or weakened immune systems.

Some parasites can also infect the lungs and cause pneumonia

Conditions and risk factors that predispose to pneumonia include smoking, immunodeficiency, alcoholism, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, chronic kidney disease, and liver disease.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of Pneumonia are; cough, fever accompanied by shaking chills, shortness of breath, sharp or stabbing chest pain during deep breaths, and an increased rate of breathing.

The typical signs and symptoms in children under five are fever, cough, and fast or difficult breathing

Diagnosis

Pneumonia is usually diagnosed with a physical examination and chest x-ray. However, depending on the severity of the symptoms, the following may be obtained: Blood test, Sputum test, urine test, CT scan, bronchoscopy and a pulse oximetry.

Treatment

The treatment for Pneumonia will depend on the causative organism. Antibiotics, antiviral and antifungal drugs are used to treat Bacterial, Viral and Fungal pneumonia respectively.

If the pneumonia is severe, the affected person is generally hospitalized. Oxygen therapy may be used if oxygen levels are low.

Prevention

Vaccines to prevent certain types of pneumonia are available.

Other methods of prevention include:

Wash your hands regularly with soap and water

Quit smoking (smoking predisposes to pulmonary diseases)

Cover your mouth during coughing or sneezing and dispose of used tissues promptly.

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