A sudden bout of coughing accompanied by sneezing or breathlessness can be an indication of pneumonia. One of the most common types of lung infection, pneumonia affects people of all ages. Children and adults with low resistance power are more prone to this condition. However, medicines and cures are available for pneumonia and diagnosing it at an early stage does not make any life threatening impact on the patient. However, fatalities can occur if the infection is left untreated for several days or has led to severe inflammation of the lungs.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
Understanding the symptoms of pneumonia can help in diagnosing the condition at an early stage. Though the symptoms may vary depending on the age and health of patient or severity of the condition, the common signs mostly remain the same. When talking about common signs, one cannot ignore, coughing with mucus or phlegm, which is often mistreated as a common cold allergy. Apart from that, chest pain accompanied by difficulty in breathing also hints about the onset of this infection. Some patients also complain of fever, chills, and sweating.
Symptoms of pneumonia may also at times vary with the cause of infection. While viral pneumonia causes flu-like symptoms including wheezing or high fever, sudden high fever along with profuse sweating may indicate bacterial pneumonia. Confusion, discoloration or bluish tint on nails and lips may also be a sign of bacterial pneumonia. Not just the underlying cause, symptoms may vary according to the age of the patients as well. Children below the age of five years may experience shortness of breath, vomiting or fatigue as indications of pneumonia. Some may also find difficulty in eating or drinking as well. However, older people are often found to have below normal temperature during the onset of pneumonia.
Causes of pneumonia
While detecting the symptoms of pneumonia helps in faster diagnosis of the infection, it is also important to learn the causes as well. Though the cause may vary from one individual to other, it is either viral or bacterial infection in the lungs, which leads to pneumonia. Virus or bacteria, which enter the lungs during inhaling cause infection. However, it does not mean that every time you inhale, you are at risk. In most of the cases, people who have been suffering from flu and cold or someone with low immunity power get the infection. Leaving common cold untreated for a considerable period of time can weaken your lungs and pave the way for pneumonia. People with chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, asthma or cardiac problems are also prone to get pneumonia.
Though treating both types of pneumonia is important, bacterial pneumonia can be a lot more fatal as compared to viral pneumonia. Caused by Streptococcus Pneumonia, Legionella pneumonia or chlamydophila pneumonia, bacterial infections can be life-threatening at times. Viral pneumonia is mostly found in children or elderly people and does not cause any serious health threat. This is generally treated with medicines and seldom requires hospitalization. Fungal pneumonia or mycoplasma pneumonia rarely affects people and can be cured with proper diagnosis.
Pneumonia can be contagious and can spread from one individual to other. Viral pneumonia can easily spread from one individual to other through the airborne droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected patient. While fungal pneumonia gets spread from airborne droplets present in the environment. It generally does not spread from one to other.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Like every other disease, the diagnosis of pneumonia starts with the medical history of the patient, including the signs and symptoms of the pneumonia outbreak. Apart from that, listening to the lung sounds with a stethoscope and conducting a chest x-ray are the basic diagnosis for detecting the infection. However, in severe cases, doctors may recommend a blood test, sputum test, pulse oximetry, CT scan of lungs, bronchoscopy or urine test. Fluid samples from chest might also be tested depending on the severity of the condition.
Once the infection is detected properly, doctors suggest different antifungal, antiviral or antibiotic drugs to cure the patient. Drugs are generally prescribed depending on the cause of infection and condition of the patient. While mild infections are treated at home with medicines, patients in a severe state might need hospitalization. Intra-venous injections, nebulizers or other medical procedures may be prescribed to heal the patient. Irrespective of the type of infection, complete bed rest and fluid intake is necessary for cure. Also, it is recommended to avoid cold or flu, as it can lead to recurrence of the infection.
People of any age can get pneumonia. Babies below the age of 2 years and adults above the age of 65 years are more prone to this infection. Bedridden people or someone suffering from swallowing problems or stroke can also get this. Anyone under the effect of steroid or cancer medicines is susceptible to this infection due to their weak immune system. Excess alcohol consumption, drug usage or smoking can also pave the way for this infection by weakening lungs.