Pulmonary Conditions & Diseases: Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection of the smaller air sacs in the lungs. This infection can be bacterial, viral, or fungal in etiology. These organisms multiply in the airways and can irritate the lining of the lung tissue. Sometimes, the lungs are the primary site of the infection but, in some instances, the infection can originate from another location in the body and be carried to the lungs via the blood.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Fever, chills
  • Feeling ill
  • Fatigue

What are the risk factors and triggers?

The following conditions can increase the risk of developing pneumonia:

  • Smoking
  • Underlying lung disease
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Contact with someone else that is sick
  • Not staying up to date on recommended vaccines
  • Recent hospital stay
  • Difficulty swallowing

How is it diagnosed?

  • Medical history
  • Physical Exam
  • Diagnostic Test
    • Chest X-Ray
    • Infectious markers in the blood work
    • Cultures

What is the treatment?

Treatment for pneumonia depends on the organism that is causing the infection. For bacterial infections, antibiotics can help the body to fight off the pathogen. For viral infections, most patients require supportive care and management of symptoms while the body naturally overcomes the virus. If caught early, some viral infections, such as the flu (influenza), can be treated with antivirals, which can help decrease the severity and duration of the illness. Antibiotics do not help with these viral infections, which make up the majority of infectious pneumonias.

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