Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of the lungs. It is characterized by the inflammation of the airspaces in the lungs most commonly due to an infection. Microorganisms like bacteria, viruses or fungi are responsible for the disease in the lungs. Interestingly, there also exist a few noninfectious varieties of pneumonia that are caused by aspirating or inhaling foreign matter or toxic substances. Some medical cases of pneumonia can be severe and life-threatening. Although anyone of any age can be affected, the signs of pneumonia are more prevalent in older adults. This is because they have a weak immune system which cannot guard the body against microbes.
What are the symptoms of pneumonia?
The symptoms of pneumonia can be mild to life-threatening. However, the most common symptoms of pneumonia include the following:
- Lingering pain in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Continuous coughing which may produce mucus
- Suffering from fever, chills and sweating
Notably, the other symptoms may vary as per the cause and severity of the infection. Thus, let’s have a glance at the pneumonia symptoms based on their purpose and age.
Symptoms by age
- The symptoms of pneumonia in children may include vomiting, lack of energy or having trouble ingesting
- Kids under five years of age may experience fast breathing
- The symptoms of pneumonia in older people may comprise of lower-than-normal body temperature
Pneumonia symptoms by cause
- If bacterial agents cause pneumonia, then it may cause a high fever. Fever may accompany with profuse sweating, confusion and bluish lips and nails
- On the other hand, viral pneumonia may commence with flu-like symptoms, which includes wheezing. An intensely high fever may accompany these all after 12 to 36 hours
What is the contagious period for pneumonia?
It is impossible to state precisely how long an adult or kid with acute pneumonia is contagious. This is because it depends on the type of microbe responsible for causing pneumonia. In general situations, the infectious period varies from one to two days to weeks. Moreover, when an infected person is sneezing, there are high chances that contaminated droplets would be released into the air. Interestingly, the signs of pneumonia are usually suppressed after the intake of antibiotics. Then again, this period may vary for some organisms. For instance, with viral pneumonia, the patient becomes less contagious after the improvement of the pneumonia symptoms.
Is pneumonia contagious?
It is crucial to note that a majority of bacterial pneumonia are mildly contagious. Even though it is possible to spread bacteria from one person to another, and it typically occurs in individuals with a weakened immune system. The bacteria that are usually present in the throat or nose invades the linings of the lungs. Notably, any bacterial or viral pneumonia has the potential to be contagious. But, the Mycoplasma pneumonia is one type of bacterial pneumonia which is highly infectious.
Types of Pneumonia
Interestingly, the signs of pneumonia can also be classified to where it was acquired.
- Community-Acquired Pneumonia: This variety of pneumonia is usually contracted from a medical facility
- Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia: This type of bacterial pneumonia is generally contracted during a hospital stay. It often is more severe than other varieties of pneumonia as the bacteria may be more resistant to antibiotics
Certain people who fall under high risk to contract pneumonia
Although anyone can contract pneumonia, some specific people may be at higher risk of contracting it. Here is the list of them.
- People who have a history of suffering from strokes and have problems with swallowing
- People who smoke and are addicted to drugs and alcohol
- Individuals who have chronic medical conditions which comprise of asthma, diabetes, heart failure, etc.
- Infants and people who have their age above 65 years
- Individuals with a weakened immune system
- People who are on medications like steroids and specific cancer drugs
The diagnosis procedure of pneumonia
Typically pneumonia is diagnosed based on physical exam and chest X-ray. However, nowadays, medical practitioners will start with the diagnosis process by asking you questions about the first appearance of the symptoms. Other methods of diagnosis include listening to your lungs with a stethoscope for any abnormal sounds like wheezing.
The pneumonia treatment also depends significantly on various types of tests to ascertain the presence of pneumonia-causing microbes. The following list illustrates the example of criteria that one can undergo when suffering from pneumonia.
- CT Scan: To get a more precise picture of your lungs, your physician may ask you to undergo a CT Scan
- Bronchoscopy: This test is usually accomplished with the help of a camera fitted into a flexible tube. Your doctor may opt for this test if your initial symptoms are severe
- A fluid sample: If your doctor ascertains the fact that there is fluid in your chest, he or she may ask you to opt for this test
- Blood Test: This test significantly confirms the presence of an infection. However, it may not be able to determine the cause of the disease
- Sputum Test: This test analyzes the mucus of your lungs which may identify the purpose of the infection
The various ways of pneumonia treatment prevalent
Your treatment for pneumonia usually depends on the type of pneumonia you have, its level of severity and your general health. Here are the following ways through which pneumonia is treated.
Usually, home-based treatment for pneumonia is prescribed to those who have a significantly low severity level. Here is the list of ways with the help of which home-based treatment for pneumonia is accomplished.
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Intake of prescribed drugs as per the correct schedule
- Availing a lot of rest
- Not getting back to tedious lifestyle even after the symptoms have vanished for a few days
Nowadays, with the emergence of advanced pneumonia vaccine, the severity of this illness can be controlled from an early stage. Most commonly used drugs comprise of antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal medicines.
Interestingly, a majority of bacterial pneumonia can be treated at home. Oral antibiotics are most often used as a form of prescribed medicine. On the flipside, your physician may also recommend over-the-counter drugs to lower your pain and fever. Persistent coughing is one of the main symptoms in acute pneumonia. This is the reason that your doctor may recommend the use of cough syrup to calm your cough so that you can rest.
Treatment inside a medical institution
Pneumonia treatment in a hospital becomes inevitable when its symptoms are very acute. At the hospital, the doctors may keep track of your vital parameters. With the help of effective monitoring, the symptoms of pneumonia can be lowered to normal. Here is the list of treatment procedures prevalent in hospitals.
- Oxygen Therapy: With the help of oxygen therapy, the optimum level of oxygen can be maintained in your bloodstream. You may receive oxygen through a face mask or a nasal tube. In case the symptoms of pneumonia have attained dangerous propositions, you may also be supported via a ventilator
- Intravenous antibiotics: Intravenous antibiotics have a definite edge over other forms of medicines. This is because they are pushed directly into the veins. This augurs for a speedy recovery.
- Moreover, the healing rate with intravenous antibiotics is much higher when compared to regular medicines
- Respiratory Therapy: Respiratory therapy is one of the most effective ways to deal with pneumonia. It is because, with this treatment procedure, the medications are directly delivered into the lungs. In hospitals, a respiratory specialist would help you to pursue breathing exercises to maximize oxygen levels in your bloodstream
With the help of the pneumonia vaccine, the severe complications related to pneumonia can be effectively lowered. Here is the list of complications associated with pneumonia. They are as follows:
- Chronic respiratory distress: It is a severe form of respiratory failure
- Lung Cavities: These may contain puss which may result in the breakdown of the respiratory system
- Impaired breathing: This makes you avail the support of a ventilator
The role of a pulmonologist to cure pneumonia
People suffering from chronic problems like bronchitis, pneumonia, and tuberculosis may need to see a specialist. It is essential to look for the right physician and especially look for a pulmonologist. A pulmonologist studies and treat diseases of chest, lung, and airways. Read on to know more why visiting a pulmonary doctor can be beneficial.
When suffering from lung abnormalities, it might be challenging to exhale. It takes place due to congestion in the chest and obstruction of airflow in the lungs. Also, excessive inflammatory problems can result in abnormalities of the lungs. Some of the common conditions resulting from these are emphysema and bronchitis.
This is a common phenomenon across ages. When suffering from a severe breathing problem, it is an indication of some critical lung condition. When visiting a pulmonologist, he will diagnose the health condition and ensure whether the patient is suffering from serious problems or not. Make sure that before opting for any medications, you seek help from the pulmonary doctor.
Congestion in the respiratory tract or respiratory infection can result in problems of a chronic cough. In case the coughing problems last for more than three weeks, it might be an indication of severe health problems. It is time when the person should urgently seek help from a pulmonary doctor. However, when looking for the best lung specialists, there are plenty of options to get one. But opting for a pneumonia vaccine is a wise thing to encounter pneumonia.
Here was all the information that you need to know about pneumonia. For any other queries related to the disease, feel free to ask us in the comment box.