Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a lung infection that can make you very sick and is caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. More than three million people in the United States develop pneumonia every year. About seventeen percent of the three million have to receive treatment in the hospital when sick. Most people recover from pneumonia but there is about five percent that will succumb to the condition. Some people are more likely to catch pneumonia then others but it is most dangerous for older adults, babies, and people with other diseases or impaired immune systems. Even people that are young and very healthy can catch pneumonia.

The primary causes of pneumonia are bacteria and viruses. When breathing all the viral germs get into your lungs and if your body’s immune system cannot prevent them the organisms settle in small air sacs and continue to multiply.  A doctor may diagnose you with pneumonia if they hear coarse breathing, wheezing, crackling sounds, or rumblings when listening to the chest through a stethoscope. Anyone can develop pneumonia but you are at higher risk if you smoke, abuse alcohol, or have other medical conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, asthma, or HIV/AIDS. Children at a young age and adults that are above the age of sixty five are more at risk.

Symptoms of pneumonia come on more quickly than most symptoms because it is caused by bacteria. Most symptoms begin with cold and flu symptoms and then they will then develop a high fever, chills, and a cough with sputum. Depending on the person and other underlying conditions some common symptoms include fast breathing and shortness of breath, rusty or green mucus coughed up from the lungs, and weakness of the body. Pneumonia can also have you feeling nauseated and vomiting can occur. You may also get an awful headache and break out in sweats. Pneumonia has many different symptoms; it just depends on how your body reacts and takes the virus and how quickly your body is to fight off the virus.

Pneumonia is treated depending on the type of pneumonia and what symptoms you have. Bacterial pneumonia is usually treated with antibiotics and viral pneumonia is usually treated with plenty of rest and fluids. Over the counter medications are also helpful to reduce fevers, reduce aches and pains, and suppressing coughs. No matter what kind of pneumonia you may have getting lots of rest and drinking lots of fluids is important. Being hospitalized for pneumonia may be required in some cases. If you have especially bad symptoms and a really weakened immune system you may have to spend some time in the hospital and be treated with intravenous antibiotics and possible be put on oxygen. Pneumonia has several ways to be prevented. There are two popular vaccines are pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (prevnar) and pneumococcal polysaccharide (pneumovax).  Prevnar is administered as part of the normal infant immunization procedure and is recommended for children less than two years of age or between two and four years with certain medical conditions. Pneumonia is provided for adults who are at increased risk of developing pneumococcal pneumonia, such as the elderly, diabetics, those with chronic heart, lung, or kidney disease, alcoholics, smokers, and those without a spleen. The vaccine may not always completely prevent older adults from getting pneumonia but it reduces the severity of future pneumonia. Also to prevent the virus form worsening or spreading it is wise that people wash hands, refrain from smoking, eat healthy, exercise, and stay away from others with pneumonia.