Pneumonia is known as being an infection of the lungs that causes significant inflammation. It can occur in both lungs or just one. Many things can cause this illness, like viruses or bacteria.
Overall, pneumonia extends a moderate-to-severe risk and is often life-threatening. It is most dangerous for those over the age of 65 or for children. Below, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about pneumonia.
What is pneumonia?
We’ve already gone over this a little, but it’s worth going more in-depth. Pneumonia primarily impacts your alveoli, which are air sacs in your lungs. The illness will cause these sacs to fill with either fluid or pus (or both), making it difficult to breathe.
Pneumonia is extremely contagious because it can be spread through airborne droplets. This is true for both viral and bacterial pneumonia. Fungal pneumonia can also be contracted by touching a surface that is contaminated.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
Those who have pneumonia can experience an array of symptoms that mimic those you’d experience with the flu or cold. The following symptoms can range from severe to mild, and pneumonia is usually diagnosed when these symptoms last longer than they would with a regular cold or flu.
- Chest pain: Because pneumonia causes inflammation of the lungs and their alveoli, you’ll likely experience chest pain if you have pneumonia
- Confusion: For older adults, those older than 65, pneumonia also comes with confusion or disorientation in space and time
- Cough: You’ll know the difference between a cough from a cold and cough from pneumonia because you’ll likely experience several symptoms on this list, and your cough will last longer than it would if you had a cold.
- Fever: Once again, your fever will last longer and could be more severe than it would be if you only had a fly or cold
When should you see a doctor?
If you or someone you know has any of the above symptoms, there may come a time when you should see a doctor. If you have a fever associated with a persistent cough, you should definitely pay a visit to your doctor.
Likewise, you should see a doctor if you experience these symptoms and are an older adult, a child under the age of 2, have an underlying condition or illness, and if you’re undergoing chemotherapy.
What causes pneumonia?
We already introduced this topic, but you should know more about the causes of pneumonia if you’re going to protect yourself from the disease.
- Bacteria: The main cause of bacterial pneumonia in the United States is a bacteria called Streptococcus pneumonia. Whether you’ve had a cold or flu or not, you can catch this bacteria. Not only this, but either (or both) lungs can be affected by the bacterial infection.
- Fungi: This might sound disturbing, but fungi is another common cause of pneumonia. Fungi cause pneumonia most often in people who already have an underlying health condition or in people whose immune system has been compromised.
- Viruses: Unfortunately, many viruses can cause inflammation, pus, and fluid buildup in the lungs. COVID-19 is known to have done so, as well as many cases of flu and colds. For children under 5 years of age, viruses are one of the most common causes of pneumonia.
Complications of Pneumonia
Now that you know more about pneumonia, you must know about the various complications you can experience from the illness.
- Lung abscesses: If someone develops pus in their lungs’ air sacks, a lung abscess can occur. Generally, this is treated with medication like antibiotics. However, surgery may be necessary to drain pus.
- Fluid in the lungs: The excessive inflammation caused by pneumonia can lead to water or fluid buildup. Those who experience this may feel shortness of breath or feel like they’re not getting enough oxygen. Should an infection occur as a result of fluid buildup, a chest tube is needed.
- Bacteria: We already mentioned that pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can be life-threatening. Pneumonia is life-threatening because the infection can spread to other areas of the body, which would subsequently cause sepsis or cause the organs to shut down.
There’s no doubt that pneumonia is a complex and dangerous illness. That’s why it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms before they worsen and become life-threatening. If you have any questions that we haven’t been able to answer thus far, feel free to contact us today!