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Pneumonia is a term used to describe infections of the lungs that can be caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. There are over 30 potential causes of pneumonia, though 30% of all cases are caused by respiratory viruses. In children and young adults, respiratory viruses are the most common cause of pneumonia. In adults, pneumonia is more commonly caused by the flu virus. Pneumonia causes the inflammation of the alveoli, the air sacs in your lungs. When the alveoli become inflamed, breathing becomes difficult and less oxygen is delivered to the body.
Pneumonia can be classified by the location of the infection:
Pneumonia can also be classified by the environment in which it was contracted:
With proper treatment, most cases of pneumonia clear up relatively quickly, lasting only about 2 weeks. For elderly patients, young children, and those with a compromised immune system, the risk of complication or death from the disease is higher. Risks of pneumonia are also much higher for individuals in hospitals and nursing home facilities.
Pneumonia can be caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms and irritants. When the lungs become infected, the alveoli, or air sacs, become inflamed and breathing and oxygen delivery may become difficult.
Most cases of pneumonia are either bacterial or viral:
Pneumonia can also be caused by:
There are several factors that can influence your risk of contracting pneumonia. These include:
A pneumonia diagnosis will most likely involve a combination of the following tests:
Symptoms of pneumonia vary from case to case and may at first appear to be influenza symptoms. These may include following:
The prognosis for pneumonia varies based on the patient and the infection type. Patients who are otherwise healthy before contracting pneumonia are likely to recover within 1-2 weeks if proper treatment is received. For elderly patients, infants, young children, and those with a compromised immune system, the risks of complication and death are much higher. An increasing number of antibiotic-resistant strains of pneumonia-causing bacteria are also increasing the risks of treatment complications. The best way to ensure a prompt recovery from pneumonia is early detection of symptoms and prompt treatment.
Taking the right steps towards recovery are important in regaining your health. The following tips can help you to a faster recovery from pneumonia:
Pneumonia is not typically screened for in the general public because its disruptive symptoms are usually promptly recognized and diagnosed when they arise. Hospitals and nursing homes may choose to screen their patients for pneumonia due to the increased risk of contracting the disease in large healthcare environments. Screening may include monitoring lung function and body temperature.
Pneumonia is not an entirely preventable disease, though there are things that you can do to lower your risk of contracting the disease. These include:
The treatment of pneumonia depends largely on the patient and the type of the infection.
Mild cases of pneumonia can most often be treated at home under the direction of a primary care physician. At home treatment methods may include the following:
More advanced cases of pneumonia, or cases of pneumonia in high risk patients, may require hospitalization. In-hospital treatments may include all of the above treatments as well as IV-delivered fluids and medication, and continuous oxygen delivery from a mask or tube.
The following alternative treatments may help in the treatment and prevention of pneumonia:
Consult your doctor about any alternative or complementary treatments you may wish to try, especially herbal remedies, as they can interact with medications. If symptoms do not improve or worsen, contact your doctor immediately.
The following tips can help make the treatment and recovery process more comfortable:
If you experience any of the following, contact your doctor immediately:
Primary care physicians are normally the first doctors to diagnose and treat pneumonia. If symptoms worsen after treatment from your primary care physician, seek care at an emergency facility.
You may want to ask your doctor the following questions:
For more information about pneumonia, visit:
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