One of the most crippling diseases that can affect the lungs today is pneumonia. Of course, as with any infectious disease, there are many steps that you can take to avoid such an infection, but they aren’t always 100% efficient.
Also, like with most other infections, bacteria are often the biggest culprit in adults. The infection in itself causes difficulty in breathing because it blocks the air sacs in the lungs and fills them with fluid or pus.
Here are the symptoms, causes, and, most importantly, treatments that one can follow.
Understanding Pneumonia Symptoms
The symptoms of the infection depend greatly on how long the infection has been manifesting. This is why when these symptoms ever surface, one should get the possibility of Pneumonia ruled out as soon as possible. The symptoms can also be mild, severe, or life threatening.
- General pain around the chest area
- Coughing with phlegm and other types of mucus discharge
- A high body temperature that fluctuates
- Sweating and chills accompanied by shortness of breath
Remember that these are just the basic symptoms of the infection. Depending on the state of your general health and well-being, your age, your symptoms may include other things as well. Symptoms influenced by age differ greatly for infants.
- They have difficulty eating, drinking, or swallowing in general.
- They are also likely to show a lack of energy and vomit frequently.
People on the other end of the spectrum will probably suffer from a body temperature that falls dangerously low during the infection.
However, by far, the most interesting collection of symptoms come from the kind of infection that has plagued you. Viral pneumonia is likely to show the above-stated symptoms and resembles flu when it comes to the same. It also includes wheezing, but bacterial pneumonia is different.
Bluish lips and a blue tint in the nails along with a general sense of confusion are only some of the symptoms that are involved when it comes to bacterial pneumonia. Pneumococcal pneumonia is one of the most common types of bacteria-caused pneumonia.
However, there is a good news as there exists a vaccine for this bacteria. It will protect you from a range of other diseases and infections that this bacteria can cause.
Types of Pneumonia
As discussed, bacterial and viral pneumonia are only classified based on the cause. There are other ways pneumonia is classified for the purpose of better protection, treatment, prevention, and understanding. Two more classifications under the causes are as follows.
These organisms are somewhat a mix between viruses and bacteria, and they’re not nearly as threatening as those two. This kind of pneumonia affects mostly kids and young adults, and it is usually mild.
Fungi mostly affect people that are already suffering from chronic diseases and illnesses or those with a generally weak immune system. In normal people, fungal pneumonia often comes through inhaling large amounts of soil, bird droppings, and other organic dirt matter.
Based on where you picked it up from, pneumonia can also be classified as hospital-acquired or community-acquired—both being very self-explanatory. The former can prove to be more dangerous because if a bacteria is thriving in a hospital environment—it is probably resistant to most kinds of antibiotics.
Can Pneumonia be Contagious?
Pneumonia is most certainly contagious, and all kinds of bacterial and viral pneumonia can be spread from one person to another through sneezing or coughing.
A few droplets in the air could be enough to pass on the infection. However, fungal pneumonia does not spread from one patient to another—it can only infect people directly through the environment.
Diagnosis and Treatment
There are numerous ways through which doctors can identify a patient who is suffering from pneumonia. The most common method is by checking your breathing patterns using a stethoscope and if necessary, getting an X-ray done.
These methods are usually enough to diagnose the presence of an infection, but they reveal nothing about what is causing it—therefore the patient is left in the dark on how to proceed with the treatment. This is why there are various other methods.
- Urine Test
This test can specifically tell if the pneumonia is caused by two specific kinds of bacteria—pneumococcal pneumoniae and legionella pneumophila.
- Sputum Test
This test requires a sample from your lungs to narrow down the culprit.
- Fluid Sample
This sample is taken from between your chest using a needle and helps in identifying the cause of the infection.
This is the most invasive method and is often used on patients hospitalized for pneumonia and for those who aren’t showing signs of recovery. A tube is sent down the throat into your lungs with a camera attached to see how severe the infection is.
Once a cause has been identified and the severity of the infection is determined—a treatment plan is put together by medical professionals. A prescribed treatment is a way to go—antibiotic, antiviral, or antifungal medication is prescribed.
The results can be seen within a few days. Over-the-counter medications may be given specifically to alleviate any pain or fever. Patients with severe cases are hospitalized for constant monitoring.
The rest is up to the patient—staying at home, taking ample rest, and not straining themselves or their lungs. Pneumonia is relatively simple and can easily be prevented with a vaccine.
Taking general care of your lungs and keeping your mouth and nose covered during the period of infection is also a small step that can make a big difference.