Infection of lungs is known as pneumonia. Usually, it occurs in one or both of the lungs. Incidentally, pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, virus or fungi. However, bacterial pneumonia is the most common of these and occurs in adults.
Pneumonia leads to inflammation of the air sacs in the lungs. These alveoli get filled with pus and it makes breathing difficult.
Though anyone can suffer from pneumonia, certain people have more risk and are prone to pneumonia.
Infants under 2 years and elders over 65 are more prone to this infection. People who have suffered a stroke also are at risk of having pneumonia. Those suffering from chronic medical conditions as asthma, diabetes, and heart failure are also at high risk of suffering from pneumonia.
Complications of Pneumonia
Even though treatment for pneumonia is sought in time, sometimes the severity of infection is so intense that it leads to complications which are difficult to cure and might need regular monitoring on the part of doctor or hospitalization in some cases.
- Bacterial presence in the bloodstream
In case bacteria are able to enter the bloodstream from the lungs they can spread this infection to other parts and can also lead to organ failures.
- Difficulty in breathing
If the infection has spread and is severe, it can lead to difficulty in breathing. The patient will require hospitalization and will have to start the treatment for pneumonia. The patient may require the use of a ventilator unless the situation gets better.
Diagnosis of Pneumonia
The doctor will begin the diagnosis of pneumonia by asking certain questions to the patient. These could be on certain symptoms of the disease or the previous medical history of the person. A physical examination of the patient is also done by the doctor.
A chest x-ray is the ideal way for a doctor to judge the presence of pneumonia in a person. However, depending upon the intensity of the infection a doctor can also recommend a blood test, sputum test, urine test, CT scan, fluid sample and bronchoscopy of the patient.
- Blood test
A blood test plays a vital role in confirming the infection but it will not be able to identify the causal agent behind the infection.
- Sputum test
Doctors take a sample from the lungs of the patient through this test and are able to identify the cause of infection.
- Urine test
Bacteria as Streptococcus pneumonia and Legionella pneumophila are identified through this test.
- CT Scan
A clear and detail picture of lungs emerges through this test and the doctor is able to point out the cause precisely.
- Fluid sample
Sometimes doctors suspect that the patient might have fluid in pleural space of the chest. In this case, they take a fluid using needle placed between the ribs. This test also helps in identifying the cause of infection in a person.
A clear view of airways of the lungs emerges through this test. This is done through a camera at the end of the flexible tube which is guided down the throat and then into the lungs. This test is usually performed when the initial symptoms of pneumonia are severe or the body is not responding to the medications being given.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
The symptoms of pneumonia can often be mild to life-threatening. Some of the common symptoms of pneumonia include a cough which usually produces phlegm or mucus. Fever, sweating, chills, and shortness of breath might also occur in pneumonia. Some people might also suffer from chest pain when they show up initial symptoms of this medical condition.
The symptoms can also be divided into two categories:
- Symptoms by Cause
In this category, two types of pneumonia can be listed, viral and bacterial pneumonia.
Viral pneumonia might begin with a common condition such as wheezing which is followed by high fever after 12 to 36 hours in this case. Whereas, in bacterial pneumonia, the patient may have high fever. This is usually followed by lips and nails turning blue, profuse sweating and general confusion in the mind of the patient.
- Symptoms by Age
Pneumonia in children under five years of age results in fast breathing. Infants, on the other hand, might vomit or have difficulty in eating and drinking when they suffer from pneumonia.
Prevention of Pneumonia
A person should get vaccinated against pneumonia in the first instance if they are to prevent infection. Sometimes, however, pneumonia is confused to be similar to flu as the initial symptoms are same. Therefore, flu shots should be taken annually so that in case of pneumonia, the correct medication may be given.
Pneumonia can be life-threatening if adequate precautions are not taken before time. With proper medication and rest, pneumonia will get better with time and a person will be able to resume their daily routine.