What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a serious infection that affects either one or both the lungs. It is caused by fungi, bacteria and viruses. The infection leads to the inflammation of the air sacs in your lungs. These air sacs, also known as alveoli, get filled with pus or fluid, making it difficult to breathe normally. If left untreated, pneumonia can be life-threatening. It is essential to meet a Pneumonia Specialist as soon as lung infections have been detected. Pneumonia is contagious and will spread from person to person through the inhalation of airborne droplets from a cough or sneeze. It may also spread by coming into contact with surfaces or objects that have been contaminated by pneumonia-causing viruses or bacteria.
Different Symptoms Of Pneumonia
The Signs and Symptoms of pneumonia range from mild to life-threatening. The commonly seen Pneumonia Symptoms include:
- Cough which that may produce phlegm
- Sweating or chills
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain when you cough or breathe
- Loss of appetite
If the patient is older than 65 or has a weak immune system they may also experience confusion or other changes in mental awareness. They may also exhibit a lower than normal body temperature.
Infants and new-borns tend to display no particular Symptoms. However, if they have low energy, vomit, or have trouble drinking or eating, it is a good idea to see a pneumonia doctor as soon as possible. Children under five years may also have symptoms like wheezing or breathing fast.
Who Is At Risk?
According to Pulmonologists, anyone can be affected by pneumonia. However, the two age groups that are at the highest risk are:
- People who are 65 or older
- Children below are below 2 years
Besides the above mentioned two age groups, others who have a higher risk of getting pneumonia include:
- Chronic Disease: If you have a chronic disease like asthma, heart disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), your chances of contracting pneumonia are higher.
- Smoking: Smoking lowers your body’s ability to defend itself from bacteria and viruses making you more vulnerable to diseases like pneumonia.
- Weak Immune System: People who have a weak immune system due to a health ailment, undergo chemotherapy, had an organ transplant, or on long-term steroids are at higher risk.
- Hospitalized: People who are hospitalized in the ICU or on a ventilator are also vulnerable.
Causes Of Pneumonia
Pneumonia is mainly caused by bacteria and viruses in the air. Your body protects you from these germs with a strong immunity system. However, sometimes the germs tend to overpower your body’s defense system. Pneumonia Causes are classified into these categories:
- Community-acquired pneumonia: This is one of the most commonly seen Causes of this Disease. Some of the common Causes behind community-acquired pneumonia are Streptococcus pneumonia, Mycoplasma pneumonia, fungi, viruses, and so on.
- Hospital-acquired pneumonia: Some people wind up pneumonia during a hospital stay for some other illness. This type of pneumonia is more dangerous as it is more resistant to pneumonia medication.
- Aspiration pneumonia: This is caused by inhaling drink, food, saliva, or vomit into your lungs. This is why new mothers have to be extremely careful while feeding their babies.
How is Pneumonia diagnosed?
Pneumonia diagnosis is hard in many cases since it exhibits similar Symptoms to that of a cold or the flu. It is not until later that it becomes apparent that it is not a regular cold or flu. This is why doctors rely on physical exams, medical history, and test results to diagnose pneumonia.
- Medical History: Your doctor will enquire about the different signs and symptoms you are experiencing. They will also ask when you first noticed these symptoms. Some other questions they may ask about include your hobbies, recent travel history, exposure to animals, smoking history, past medical conditions, exposure to sick people recently, and so on.
- Physical exam: The physical exam involves using a stethoscope to listen to your lungs. The presence of pneumonia will be indicated by a bubbling, rumbling, and crackling sound as you inhale. The doctor might also hear wheezing.
- Diagnostic tests: The doctor will probably prescribe diagnostic tests to confirm whether you have pneumonia or not. The chest X-ray is used to look for inflammation in your lungs. The blood culture will indicate whether a bacterial infection has spread to your blood or not. The sputum test looks for pneumonia-causing bacteria in your spit or phlegm. The Chest computed tomography is used to check how much of your lungs have been affected or whether there are pleural effusions or lung abscesses. Some other pneumonia tests that may be prescribed include Pulse oximetry, Bronchoscopy, and so on.
How Is Pneumonia Treated?
Pneumonia Treatment involves curing the infection and Preventing further complications. Community-acquired pneumonia can be easily treated with medication. Several organizations like Cure.fit offers online doctor consultation Services with Specialist Doctors so that you do not need to leave your home to meet a doctor. The doctors will decide the pneumonia cure based on the type of pneumonia, the severity, your overall health, and your age. The different treatment options include:
- Antibiotics: Once the pneumonia types have been identified, it is easier to choose the best antibiotic. In case the symptoms do not improve, the doctor may recommend different antibiotics.
- Cough Medicine: Cough medicine is useful in loosening up the fluid in your lungs and causing it to move. Once your cough has been calmed down, you will find it easier to rest.
- Fever reducers Or Pain relievers: These help with the fever and any discomfort you may experience. Doctors will prescribe the dosage based on your age and body weight.
In case you are 65 or older and have Pneumonia Risk Factors, doctors may hospitalize you to keep you under observation. This will help monitor your organ functions and make sure that your symptoms do not get worse. Babies younger than 2 months are also hospitalized to keep an eye on their blood oxygen levels and breathing levels.
How Can Pneumonia Be Prevented?
In order to prevent falling prey to pneumonia, you need to get the Pneumonia Vaccine, practice good hygiene, stop smoking, avoid sick people, and lead a healthy lifestyle. By taking better care of your health, you reduce your chance of falling victim to pneumonia. After all, Prevention is better than cure.