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December 22, 2016 | Pulmonology
One of the most well-known conditions that can affect the lungs is pneumonia, a disease most often caused by infection. Pneumonia develops when air sacs in the lungs become inflamed, often causing them to fill with fluid or pus.
Pneumonia can cause a number of symptoms and complications, and can range anywhere from moderate to life-threatening. Several different factors can lead to infections in the lungs, and people of certain ages and with certain conditions may be at higher risk. Let’s find out more about pneumonia – how to recognize it, treat it and prevent it.
Infection is the major concern in nearly all cases of pneumonia, and it can be caused by several different kinds of germs. Pneumonia is categorized based on how and where the germs infected you.
Community-acquired: This is the easiest way to get pneumonia – in social settings, and from other people who are infected. It spreads in a few different ways:
Hospital- or healthcare-acquired: People staying in hospitals or at long term healthcare facilities can contract pneumonia from those places.
Aspiration pneumonia: This refers to a time where you may have accidentally inhaled food, drink or other substances that don’t belong into your lungs. In rare cases, it can lead to pneumonia.
Pneumonia can affect anyone, but it’s most serious for young (under two years old) and old (over 65 years old) people. These populations are usually at higher risk. People with low immune systems, chronic diseases or who smoke cigarettes are also at higher general risk.
Symptoms of pneumonia are generally similar to a flu, and can include:
It can be tough to decide when you should see a doctor as the symptoms may also point to a cold or the flu, but if you are in a high-risk group, it’s good to consult with a doctor. Seek immediate medical attention if you have a fever above 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pneumonia is usually managed with rest and proper treatment, but there are some cases where it can cause further problems. Some of the complications from pneumonia include:
There are several different tests that may accompany a basic physical examination when your doctor is checking for pneumonia:
The primary goal of treatment for pneumonia is managing the initial infection and preventing it from spreading or causing other problems. Doctors typically recommend some combination of cough medicine, antibiotics and pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but the exact dosages depend on your individual case. In severe cases, especially for high-risk groups, treatment for pneumonia may involve hospitalization for a few days or even weeks.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.