Of the numerous diseases that have plagued people for centuries, few are as pervasive and persistent as pneumonia. A serious lung infection that can be fatal primarily occurs due to some form of inflammation in either one or both of the air sacs. It is most often caused by bacteria but can also be caused by viruses, fungi, and even parasites. Symptoms include coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, sweating, and fever. Treatment depends on the type of pneumonia but may consist of antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals.
Table of Contents
Here is an overview of some classic symptoms of pneumonia:
- Coughing: A forceful, sudden way of emitting air from your body due to an irritation in the throat or air passage. When a foreign particle or irritating agent is present in the airways, they send a signal to the nerves, which in turn notify the brain. In the case of pneumonia, you may also notice the cough contains phlegm or a similar discharge.
- Chest pain: Another classic symptom of pneumonia, chest pain can be quite unsettling. Since this condition directly attacks the lungs and the airways, chest pain becomes a common symptom.
- Fever and chills: This is a clear demarcation between a bad case of the common cold or flu and pneumonia. The former mostly attacks the upper respiratory system, that is, the nose and throat. Pneumonia, however, attacks the lungs, leading to a rapid onset of high fever followed by sweating and chills.
- Fatigue: Owing to fever, chills, and chest pain, fatigue is another common symptom of pneumonia.
- Shortness of breath: Due to the lungs being compromised, even normal breathing at rest might be a task, and external aid might be required in extreme cases.
- Nausea or diarrhoea: Although it is an infection in the airways, your body can react strongly with a vomiting episode or diarrhoea. This can make the consumption of solid food and liquids a challenge.
Overall, the symptoms might seem severe, but they may not be life-threatening in all cases. Treatment for pneumonia depends on the severity of the infection and the underlying cause.
Causes of Pneumonia
There are many causes of pneumonia, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Pneumonia can also be caused by inhaling irritants such as chemicals or smoke. In some cases, pneumonia may be caused by a more serious underlying condition, such as cancer or HIV. In general, your immunity system might be strong enough to ward off these airborne pathogens, but they can sometimes make it through to your body.
Types of Pneumonia
There are a few different types of pneumonia, each with its own symptoms and treatment options. There are four categories of pneumonia: community transmitted, hospital-acquired, healthcare-acquired, and aspiration.
- Viral pneumonia: It is primarily caused by a virus. This type is usually less severe and can often be treated at home with rest and fluids. However, some people may need to be hospitalised for severe symptoms.
- Bacterial pneumonia: As is evident by the name, bacterial pneumonia is caused by bacteria. Bacterial pneumonia can be more severe than viral pneumonia and may require antibiotics to clear the infection. People with this type of pneumonia may also need to be hospitalized for treatment in extreme circumstances.
- Fungal pneumonia: Fungal pneumonia is not as common as the other two. This type is caused by fungi and can often be treated with antifungal medications. People with fungal pneumonia may also need to be hospitalised for treatment.
This is a type of pneumonia wherein the patient is exposed to the disease while hospitalised for another illness. This can be quite severe and even life-threatening as the pathogens/bacteria are present in a hospital setting and, therefore, more resistant to antibiotics and other medications.
Apart from proper hospitalization, people can also develop pneumonia in outpatient clinics and long-term facilities. Similar to hospital-acquired, bacterial infections can also be quite severe as they are resistant to medications.
Due to a poor gag reflex caused by a brain injury or excess consumption of alcohol or drugs, food, drink, or even vomit can enter the air passage instead of the digestive passage. This leads to aspiration pneumonia.
Treatment for Pneumonia
Although the exact treatment for pneumonia depends on the type, here are three common ways to treat it apart from hospitalization:
- Antibiotics: Since bacterial pneumonia is the most pervasive, it might require a dose of strong antibiotics. Your doctor will identify the bacteria behind the infection and suggest the best medicine. They might suggest a different alternative if the symptoms don’t reduce or diminish.
- Cough suppressant: A cough is a common but irritating symptom that can interfere with your recovery. Your doctor might also recommend a form of cough medicine or suppressant. However, do remember that coughing moves the fluid in your lungs, so its function is necessary. As a result, if at all possible, use this medication sparingly.
- Medicine to reduce fever and fatigue: It might also be necessary to use certain medications and pain relievers to reduce the fever and body pain. Classic drugs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and tylenol.
Pneumonia is a serious lung infection that can be fatal if not treated properly. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi and spread through the air or by contact with respiratory secretions. However, pneumonia is beatable in most cases with proper treatment and rest.
To find out more about other dangerous conditions like pneumonia or to undertake other diagnostic tests such as stress, CRP, or liver function tests, reach out to us at Metropolis Health. A key player in the diagnostic industry, our state-of-the-art labs are spread across several countries. For more information on our testing prices and procedures, contact us today.