Pneumonia treatment depends on the type of pneumonia you have and how bad your illness is. Mild cases are treated with antibiotics that are given through an IV.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. It causes inflammation in one or more of the air sacs. The air sacs are small, thin-walled pockets that allow air to flow from your mouth and nose into the lungs. They make up the inner lining of the lung.
Pneumonia happens when bacteria, viruses, or fungi invade these pockets through the mouth or nose. The infection makes it hard for your lungs to work as they should. This puts a strain on your heart and makes it work harder than it should be working.
The inflammation can also damage tiny blood vessels in the lungs. It may cause them to bleed into nearby tissues or may even block them completely so you cannot get enough oxygen into your bloodstream with each breath you take.
Signs and Symptoms of Pneumonia
The main symptoms of pneumonia are:
- A chest pain that feels like you have had the “wind knocked out” of you. This is called pleurisy.
- You may also feel like you have a bad cold when you first have pneumonia. The symptoms get worse over several days or weeks as your lungs get more and more irritated.
- You may cough up mucus that smells bad or see blood in it.
- You may also wheeze when breathing, especially upon exertion, or have rales (making a rattling sound) when listening to your lungs with a stethoscope.
- You may have trouble breathing when lying flat in bed or sitting upright. This may be due to increased pressure on your lungs by the fluid they contain, or the fluid you are trying to breathe out may prevent your lungs from fully expanding.
- You may also have a fever, night sweats, and headaches.
Causes of Pneumonia
Pneumonia is usually caused by infection with viruses or bacteria. You can get it if you breathe in germs like cold germs or flu germs and they make you sick. These germs can be carried in the air by coughs and sneezes that spread them from person to person.
You can also get a pneumonia germ if you touch something contaminated with it and then touch your nose or mouth.
Being too old to fight off the illness makes it more likely that you will get pneumonia. In addition, people who have chronic lung problems like asthma or cystic fibrosis are more likely to get it.
Pneumonia can also be caused by chest injuries like broken ribs, punctured lungs, or rough treatment in a hospital.
Diagnosis and Treatment
There are many tests that your doctor may do to help figure out what is causing your pneumonia.
Tests you may have include: Blood tests, chest X-rays, Lung scans, Blood cultures, Tests for hidden infections like tuberculosis. Your doctor may also do a physical examination while you are in his or her office.
Pneumonia treatment depends on the type of pneumonia you have and how bad your illness is. Mild cases are treated with antibiotics that are given through an IV. These drugs kill the germs in your lungs that are causing the infection.
If you have a severe case, you may need to be admitted to the hospital until you get better. The doctors will watch for signs of oxygen deficiency, high blood pressure, or low blood sugar.
You can prevent pneumonia by washing your hands often with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand cleaners. You also should avoid touching your mouth and nose as much as possible, especially if you are sick with a cold, flu, or any other respiratory illness.
The best way to prevent pneumonia is to avoid getting it in the first place. The main ways you can do this include:
- Washing your hands often with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand cleaners.
- Avoid touching your mouth and nose as much as possible, especially if you are sick with a cold, flu, or any other respiratory illness.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes by using a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Don’t shake hands with someone who has just coughed or sneezed.
- Using a face mask to help you breathe when you are around people who have colds is not very effective at preventing pneumonia.
- If you wear a face mask, use one that covers both your nose and mouth. Wearing a face mask is not enough to prevent the spread of infection.
- Tell your doctor about any medications you are taking. Some medicines can interfere with the immune system and make you more likely to get pneumonia. For example, antibiotics kill bacteria and may cause pneumonia or other infections to get worse or even lead to cancer of the lining of the throat or gut if they stay in your system for too long.
- Also, anti-viral drugs like acyclovir used to treat colds may weaken your immune system so you are more likely to get pneumonia or other infections when you don’t have a cold.