Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a lung condition in which the small air sacs within the lung, or alveoli, become inflamed. Pneumonia most commonly results in a cough, fever, chest pain, and trouble breathing. Other less common symptoms, such as fever, may also arise. The inflammation of a lung’s alveoli is most often caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection. An infection can occur when germs in the air you breathe make it past the filters in the air passages leading to your lungs and irritate the alveoli within the lungs, causing them to fill up with fluid. Today pneumonia is easily treated, though if left alone, can also result in death. Pneumonia limits the amount of oxygen that the lungs can provide, and there are chances that the infection could spread to the rest of the body. Pneumonia affects each person differently, though cases in infants, children, the elderly, and those with weak immune systems are most severe.

Pneumonia Symptoms

Pneumonia is a lung condition with more than 30 causes, and symptoms will differ in severity.

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath (Pustules)
  • Chest pain
  • Headache

Pneumonia Causes

There are many different types of pneumonia. The types of pneumonia are dependent on their causes, of which there are more than 30. Most commonly, inflammation of the lung is due to viruses, bacteria, or fungi, such as the flu virus. Understanding the cause of each specific case is extremely important when treating pneumonia.

Common Causes of Pneumonia

  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Fungi
  • Mycoplasmas
  • Certain chemicals

Pneumonia Diagnosis

Because there are various types of pneumonia depending on the cause, proper diagnosis of the specific type of pneumonia is necessary. There are a number of ways pneumonia may be diagnosed. Most commonly, pneumonia may be diagnosed by a physical examination from your doctor. However, more extensive procedures may be necessary depending on the type of pneumonia.

  • Physical examination from a doctor
  • Chest x-ray (once pneumonia is suspected)
  • CBC blood test
  • CT scan of the chest
  • Pulse oximetry (a measurement of the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream)
  • Bronchoscopy (a look inside your airways, usually only necessary in the most serious cases)

Pneumonia Treatment

Treatment for pneumonia is specific to the type of pneumonia one has, and is dependent on the cause of the individual case. Treatment is also dependent on the severity of the case, and whether or not the individual has any disease that might play a role. However, best treatment for all types of pneumonia can be administered at home by taking care of yourself.

Simple Home Treatment of Pneumonia

  • Drink fluids to loosen mucus in the airways
  • Get ample rest
  • If you have a fever, control it by taking aspirin, acetaminophen, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
  • Consult your doctor before taking cough medicine, as it may inhibit you when coughing up extra mucus
  • Most antibiotics will not affect viral pneumonia, and antiviral medication may be required.
  • Typically it will take 1 to 3 weeks for viral pneumonia to get better.
  • Oral macrolide antibiotics (azithromycin, clarithromycin, erythromycin)
  • More powerful antibiotics will be necessary for patients with other illnesses that might impact the severity of the pneumonia

Intravenous distribution of antibiotics

  • Oxygen therapy
  • Breathing treatment