Pneumonia

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a respiratory infection that causes inflammation of the lungs.  Air sacs in both lungs or in only one can become inflamed and fill with fluid. This results in a cough that has phlegm.  Chills, difficulty breathing and fever can accompany this infection.

Pneumonia is usually caused by fungi, bacteria, and viruses.  It can be quite mild or it can be very dangerous.  Young children and infants and seniors and people who have weakened immune systems are most vulnerable to the worst side effects.

What are the Symptoms of Pneumonia?

Factors that cause pneumonia will affect how mild or severe it is and the type of symptoms that occur.

Overall health and age can also determine how severe symptoms are.  They symptoms mimic those of the flu but last longer.  They can include coughing (with or without phlegm), tiredness, chills and fever, chest pain when breathing or coughing, difficulty breathing, vomiting, lower body temperature than normal, and diarrhea.

How is Pneumonia Treated?

Typically, treatments for pneumonia focus on preventing complications and then curing the infection.  Many people are able to be treated at home. Antibiotics treat bacterial pneumonia and are usually the first course of treatment, even before the cause is determined. Cough medicine helps relieve the symptom of coughing and helps get more rest.  Pain or fever relievers may be taken as needed.

Hospitalization is not usually required unless the patient is older than 65 or very young.  If pneumonia is very severe or not detected early enough the kidney may not function properly, which would be reason to be hospitalized.  Very low blood pressure, extreme rapid breathing or inability to breathe properly, or a very low body temperature or blood pressure are other reasons that you may have to stay in a hospital.