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Home :: Respiratory Diseases

Pneumonia - viral, bacterial pneumonia sign, symptom, cause, treatment


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Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lung caused by infection with bacteria, viruses, and other organisms. Infection often follows a cold or the flu, but it also can be associated with other illnesses or occur on its own. There are more than 50 kinds of pneumonia ranging in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. The person can still breathe, but it might be hard to breathe, especially if the pneumonia affects both lungs. Other factors can also make specific people susceptible to bacterial growth and pneumonia. It can range from mild to severe, even fatal. It is a particular concern for older adults and people with chronic illnesses or impaired immune systems, but it also can strike young, healthy people. You can get pneumonia in your daily life, such as at school or work. This is called community-based pneumonia. It can happen to people at any age, from tiny babies to really old people. It can result from a variety of causes, including infection with bacteria , viruses , fungi , or the presence in the lungs of parasites such as dust mites or mold mites. Pneumonia can be very serious, because it directly interferes with your body's ability to exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen.

It is a common illness that affects millions of people each year in the United States. People with bacterial pneumonia are usually sicker than those with viral pneumonia, but can be effectively treated with antibiotic medications. A person who has an impaired immune system is far more likely to contract pneumonia, including pneumonia caused by unusual organisms; this person may not respond as well to treatment as someone whose immune system is healthy. It is a common illness, occurs in all age groups, and is a leading cause of death among the elderly and people who are chronically ill. Often pneumonia begins after an upper respiratory tract infection (an infection of the nose and throat). It is different in this way from acute bronchitis , which is another disease that can cause fever, cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath. When this happens, symptoms of pneumonia begin after 2 or 3 days of a cold or sore throat. Until 1936, pneumonia was the No.1 cause of death in the U.S. Since then, the use of antibiotics brought it under control. Patients with diseases that impair the immune system, such as AIDS, or those undergoing cancer therapy or organ transplantation, or patients with other chronic illnesses are particularly vulnerable.

Causes of Pneumonia

The comman causes of Pneumonia include the following :

  • Mycoplasmas
  • Respiratory viruses are the most common causes of pneumonia in young children, peaking between the ages of 2 and 3.
  • Various chemicals.
  • You can also get it from breathing in (aspirating) food, liquid, chemicals and dust.
  • Other infectious agents, such as fungi - including pneumocystis.
  • Sometimes pneumonia occurs when particles from the mouth are inhaled and are not cleared, or when an obstruction (such as a tumor) causes bacteria to become trapped.

Symptoms of Pneumonia

Some sign and symptoms related to Pneumonia are as follows:

  • Labored breathing that makes a child's rib muscles retract (when muscles under the rib cage or between ribs draw inward with each breath).
  • Fever with shaking chills.
  • Shaking, "teeth-chattering" chills (one time only or many times).
  • Vomiting.
  • Headache.
  • Loss of appetite (in older children) or poor feeding (in infants).
  • Abdominal pain.
  • In extreme cases, bluish or gray color of the lips and fingernails.
  • Nausea.
  • Sharp or stabbing chest pain worsened by deep breathing or coughing.
  • Yellow-green phlegm (mucous).
  • Feeling very tired (fatigue) or feeling very weak (malaise).

Treatment of Pneumonia

Here is list of the methods for treating Pneumonia:

  • In most cases, pneumonia can be treated with oral antibiotics given to your child at home. The type of antibiotic used depends on the type of pneumonia.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help loosen secretions and bring up phlegm.
  • If you have an underlying chronic disease, severe symptoms, or low oxygen levels, you will likely require hospitalization for intravenous antibiotics and oxygen therapy.
  • Sometimes you need a repeat chest x-ray 4-6 weeks after your symptoms go away just to make sure that your infection is gone.
  • Because coughing helps clear infection out of your lungs, your doctor may recommend that you not use a cough suppressant.
  • You may need to go to the hospital if you have bad symptoms, a weak immune system , or another serious illness.