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Pneumonia: Symptoms, causes, and treatments

Pneumonia: Symptoms, causes, and treatments


It is the infection of the lungs caused by bacteria, fungi, and virus. Pneumonia causes inflammation in the air sacs in your lungs, which are called alveoli. The alveoli fill with fluid or pus, making it difficult to breathe. Bacterial pneumonia is the most common type in adults.

Pneumonia symptoms can be mild to life-threatening. The most common symptoms of pneumonia can include:1) fever, sweating, and chills 2)shortness of breath 3)chest pain and coughing that produces phlegm 4)abdominal pain (because a child is coughing and working hard to breathe)
5) Less activity 6)loss of appetite (in older kids) or poor feeding (in infants), which may lead to dehydration7) Confusion or changes in mental awareness in adults over 65
In extreme cases, the bluish or grey color of the lips and fingernails

Other symptoms can vary according to the age and the severity of the infection.

Viral pneumonia may start with flu-like symptoms, such as wheezing. A high fever may occur after 12–36 hours.
Bacterial pneumonia may cause a fever as high as 105°F along with profuse sweating, bluish lips and nails, and confusion.

Many a time pneumonia becomes contagious as both viral and bacterial pneumonia can spread to others through inhalation of airborne droplets from a sneeze or a cough. But while you can become infected with fungal pneumonia from the environment, it doesn’t spread from person to person.


Possible complications of pneumonia are:

Bacteraemia and septic shock-Bacteraemia is a serious complication in which bacteria from the initial site of infection spread into the blood. It may lead to septic shock, a potentially fatal complication.
Lung abscesses- Lungs abscesses usually are treated with antibiotics. Sometimes surgery or drainage with a needle is needed to remove the pus.
Pleural effusions, empyema, and pleurisy- These painful or even potentially fatal complications can occur if pneumonia is not treated. The pleura is a membrane that consists of two large, thin layers of tissue. One layer wraps around the outside of your lungs and the other layer lines the inside of your chest cavity. Pleurisy is when the two layers of the pleura become irritated and inflamed, causing sharp pain each time you breathe in. The pleural space is a very thin space between the two pleura. Pleural effusions are the build-up of fluid in the pleural space. If the fluid becomes infected, it is called empyema. If this happens, you may need to have the fluid drained through a chest tube or removed with surgery.
Renal failure
Respiratory failure

Treatment for pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia you have, the germ causing your infection, and how severe your pneumonia is. Most people who have community-acquired pneumonia—the most common type of pneumonia—are treated at home. The goals of treatment are to cure the infection and prevent complications. There are two types of pneumonia 1) bacterial pneumonia 2) viral pneumonia

Bacterial pneumonia- is treated with medicines called antibiotics. You should take antibiotics as your doctor prescribes. You may start to feel better before you finish the medicine, but you should continue taking it as prescribed. If you stop too soon, pneumonia may come back.

Viral pneumonia- antibiotics don't work when the cause of pneumonia is a virus. If you have viral pneumonia, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medicine to treat it. Viral pneumonia usually improves in one to three weeks.

You may need to be treated in a hospital if:

Your symptoms are severe.
You're at risk for complications because of other health problems.
If the level of oxygen in your bloodstream is low, you may receive oxygen therapy. If you have bacterial pneumonia, your doctor may give you antibiotics through an intravenous (IV) line inserted into a vein.
There are different pneumonia vaccines for children under 2, and for children aged 2 to 5 who are at high risk for pneumococcal disease. Children who attend group child care centres should also get the vaccine, and all children older than 6 months should get a flu vaccine as well so they can be prevented against pneumonia.

Bacteria, viruses, and fungi infections are the main cause of pneumonia.
Bacteria are the most common cause of pneumonia in adults. Many types of bacteria can cause bacterial pneumonia. Streptococcus pneumonia or pneumococcus bacteria are the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia.
If your pneumonia is caused by one of the following types of bacteria, it is called atypical pneumonia.1) Legionella pneumophila 2) Mycoplasma pneumoniae 3) Chlamydia pneumoniae

Viruses that infect the respiratory tract may cause pneumonia. Influenza or flu virus is the most common cause of viral pneumonia in adults. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause of viral pneumonia in children younger than one-year-old.  Other viruses can cause pneumonia such as the common cold virus known as rhinovirus, human parainfluenza virus (HPIV), and human metapneumovirus (HMPV). Most cases of viral pneumonia are mild. They get better in about one to three weeks without treatment. Some cases are more serious and may require treatment in a hospital. If you have viral pneumonia, you run the risk of getting bacterial pneumonia.

Pneumocystis pneumonia is a serious fungal infection caused by Pneumocystis jirovecii. It occurs in people who have weak immune systems due to HIV/AIDS or the long-term use of medicines that suppress their immune systems, such as those used to treat cancer or as part of organ or blood and marrow stem cell transplant procedures.

There are four types of pneumonia 1)Community-acquired pneumonia 2) Hospital acquires pneumonia 3) Healthcare-acquired pneumonia 4) Aspiration pneumonia
Community-acquired pneumonia is the most common type, occurring outside hospitals or other health facilities. It can be caused by Bacteria
•Bacteria-like organisms
•Fungi (most common in people with chronic health issues or a weakened immune system, or in people who have inhaled large doses of the organisms)
•Viruses (some of the same viruses that cause the flu or a cold

Hospital-acquired pneumonia: Caught during a hospital stay for another illness. Because bacteria causing hospital-acquired pneumonia can be more resistant to antibiotics, this type can be serious. People on breathing machines are at higher risk for this type.
•Healthcare-acquired pneumonia: A bacterial infection in people who live in long-term care facilities or who receive care in outpatient clinics. Kidney dialysis centers are a good example here. Bacteria here can also be more resistant to antibiotics.
•Aspiration pneumonia: When you inhale food, drink, vomit or saliva into the lungs. This is more likely if something disturbs your normal gag reflex, like a brain injury, swallowing issue or excessive use of alcohol or drugs.      

Kids with pneumonia caused by bacteria usually become sick fairly quickly, starting with a sudden high fever and unusually fast breathing.

Kids with pneumonia caused by viruses probably will have symptoms that appear more gradually and are less severe, though wheezing can be more common.

Some symptoms give important clues about which germ is causing pneumonia. For example, in older kids and teens, pneumonia due to Mycoplasma (also called walking pneumonia) is very common and causes a sore throat, headache, and rash in addition to usual symptoms of pneumonia.

In babies, pneumonia due to chlamydia may cause conjunctivitis (pinkeye) with only mild illness and no fever. When pneumonia is due to whooping cough (pertussis), a child may have long coughing spells, turn blue from lack of air, or make the classic "whoop" sound when trying to take a breath. Fortunately, the pertussis vaccine can help protect kids against whooping cough.

The length of time between exposure to the germ and when someone starts feeling sick varies, depending on which virus or bacteria is causing pneumonia (for instance, 4 to 6 days for RSV, but just 18 to 72 hours for the flu). If your child has bacterial pneumonia and the doctor has prescribed antibiotics, give the medicine on schedule for as long as directed. This will help your child recover faster and help prevent the infection from spreading to other household members. For wheezing, the doctor might recommend using a nebulizer or an inhaler.

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