Pneumonia – symptoms, types, risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment Health

Pneumonia – symptoms, types, risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment

Pneumonia is a respiratory infection that affects the lungs. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or even fungi. The condition causes inflammation in the air sacs, which leads them to be filled with fluid or pus, making it very difficult to breathe, thereby affecting the oxygen that is reaching the bloodstream. In this article, we shall be taking a closer and more detailed look at pneumonia, its symptoms, types, risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment.

Symptoms of pneumonia
Pneumonia can have a wide range of symptoms, depending on the severity of the condition. These symptoms may vary based on the type of germ causing the infection. Some of the most common symptoms of pneumonia include coughing with phlegm, fever, sweating, chills, and shortness of breath. In some cases, individuals may also experience chest pain, tiredness, vomiting, headaches, and loss of appetite. Pneumonia may also manifest differently based on age. Usually, infants with pneumonia show no signs or symptoms; instead, they experience fatigue and have trouble drinking and eating. On the other hand, older adults may have only mild symptoms and can also experience confusion and have lower body temperature.

Types of pneumonia
A single germ does not cause pneumonia. It can result from various bacteria and viruses that live in the air we breathe. Pneumonia is classified based on where the infection was acquired and what germ caused it.

One of the most common types of pneumonia is community-acquired pneumonia. This type of infection occurs outside the hospital or healthcare facilities. It could be caused by the following:

Bacteria: The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumonia. This type of pneumonia can occur after you’ve had a bad bout of cold or the flu. It typically affects one part of the lung.

Fungi: Fungi pneumonia is common in those who suffer from chronic health conditions. It is also commonly seen in those exposed to a large number of organisms or those who have weakened immune systems. Fungi that cause pneumonia can be found in soil or bird droppings.

Viruses: Viruses that cause cold or flu can also cause pneumonia. Pneumonia caused by a virus is generally seen in children younger than five.

Individuals can also acquire pneumonia from hospitals and healthcare centers. These types of pneumonia are much more severe. They can also be resistant to antibiotics, making them difficult to treat. Pneumonia can also occur when food, saliva, or fluid is inhaled into the lung. This type of pneumonia is known as aspiration pneumonia.

Risk factors of pneumonia
There is no exact known cause of pneumonia. But scientists have narrowed down a few factors that contribute to the development of this respiratory infection. Some of the most common risk factors are listed as follows:

Age: Age is one of the factors that can play a role in developing pneumonia. Children two years old or younger are prone to developing this condition. Another age group that has a high risk is 65 years or older.

Hospitalization: Individuals admitted to an intensive care unit and are on a machine that helps them breathe are at a higher risk of developing pneumonia.

Weakened immune system: Those who have HIV or have had an organ transplant are more likely to develop pneumonia as a secondary condition.

Chronic diseases: Individuals who suffer from asthma or other respiratory conditions are more likely to develop this infection.

Diagnosing pneumonia
Diagnosing pneumonia at the right time is essential for treating the infection. Doctors usually start by asking the patient about their health history. This also involves asking about the symptoms and when they started. Physical exams typically follow. Physical examinations include listening to the lungs and checking for any abnormal sounds. If your doctor suspects pneumonia, they usually order other tests that can help confirm their diagnosis and understand how much the infection has spread in the lungs. Some of the most common tests include the following:

Blood cultures: If your doctor suspects pneumonia, they may ask you to do a blood test to confirm the infection. Blood cultures also help in knowing the cause of the infection.

Chest X-ray: Chest X-rays usually help doctors see any inflammation in the lungs. It also shows the location and the extent of the inflammation.

Bronchoscopy: A bronchoscopy helps look into the airway with the help of a camera. Doctors may suggest this procedure if the initial symptoms of pneumonia are severe. It may also be suggested if the infection is not responding to antibiotics.

Treating pneumonia
Pneumonia is usually treated based on the severity of the infection. Common modes of treatment include prescription remedies and over-the-counter remedies. In worse cases, the patient may have to be hospitalized.