What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a lung infection which causes inflammation in the alveoli or air sacs in the lungs these can fill with fluid or pus if the infection is very severe, this, in turn, produces a cough with phlegm, fever, chills, and breathing problems.
The infection can affect one or both lungs, and ranges from mild to life-threatening especially for infants, people 65 or older, and individuals who are sick or have a weakened immune system.
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What Causes Pneumonia?
Pneumonia can be caused by: • Bacteria: The most common pneumonia-causing bacteria in the United States is Streptococcus pneumoniae. Bacterial pneumonia can occur on its own but is usually a complication of the flu. Mycoplasma pneumoniae is an atypical bacterium that can also cause a lung infection, but, symptoms are usually milder than other types of pneumonia. • Viruses: Some cold and flu viruses can result in pneumonia if not treated properly. Viral pneumonia is the most common cause of the infection in children under the age of 5, its symptoms are usually mild but can become very serious. • Fungi: This type of pneumonia is most common in individuals with chronic diseases and compromised immune systems, the type of fungi which causes it varies depending on where the person lives, and can normally be found in unsuspecting places soil.
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How to Prevent Pneumonia
- Vaccination: Both adults and children should get vaccinated to help prevent pneumonia, the type of vaccine varies depending on the age of the individual, you should speak to your doctor to ensure you receive the type of vaccination that is best for you or your child.
- Good Hygiene: The best way to avoid getting infected with viruses or bacteria that can cause lung infections is to wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Don’t Smoke: Smoking hinders your lungs natural defenses, making them more susceptible to infections.
- Strengthen your Immune System: Bacteria and viruses are everywhere, a strong immune system will usually be able to fight them on its own, however, to keep your immune system healthy, get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly.
Symptoms of the Flu and its Complications
The severity of the symptoms of pneumonia differ from one individual to another, and it largely depends on the type of organism that is causing the infection, the age and overall health of the patient, but, generally, the symptoms include:
- Chest pain when breathing or coughing
- A cough with phlegm
- Fever, sweating, and chills
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
Patients over the age of 65 or those with a weakened immune system may also experience the following symptoms:
- Lower than normal body temperature
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When to Go to
You should come to our emergency room for evaluation when:
- You’ve had a persistent fever of 102 or higher
- Experience breathing problems
- Have chest pain, especially when breathing
- A persistent cough especially if you are coughing up colored phlegm or pus
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