Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can be caused by many different microorganisms. These include viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi.
Pneumonia occurs when an infectious organism causes inflammation in the lungs. The air sacs fill with liquid and mucus. This means they can't deliver oxygen as well to the blood vessels.
The symptoms of pneumonia vary depending on the organism but may include the following: chest paincough that may bring up sputumfever and chillsshortness of breathvomitingweakness
Pneumonia is a fairly common infection that affects people of all ages. Some of its more common causes are as follows: bacteria, such asandfungi, such as the organism that causes aspergillosisorganisms similar to bacteria, such as the ones that cause tuberculosis and chlamydiaparasites, such aswhich is often seen in people with AIDSviruses, such as the ones that cause colds, flu, and RSV infection
The following factors can increase a person's risk of developing severe pneumonia: alcohol abusechronic disease, such as diabetes or heart diseasechronic obstructive pulmonary disease, such as emphysemaold agepregnancyrecent surgerysmokinga weakened immune system
The pneumonia vaccine can prevent pneumonia that is caused by bacteria. Because pneumonia is a common complication of the flu, an annual flu shot can also help to prevent pneumonia.
Pneumonia often follows common respiratory infections. So one of the best ways to prevent it is to be on the lookout for any symptoms of respiratory illness that hang on more than a few days. Healthy living habits can also help. For example, the following healthy habits can all help increase resistance to respiratory illness: eating a healthy dietpracticing personal hygienegetting a good night's sleep each nightdoing moderate exercise 30 minutes a day almost every day
These habits can also spur a faster recovery times from illness.
Diagnosis of pneumonia begins with a medical history and physical exam. A chest X-ray can confirm the diagnosis. Sometimes the germ causing the pneumonia can be found in the person's sputum or blood, but often no specific organism can be identified.
Usually, there are no long-term effects from pneumonia. Sometimes, lung damage can cause a lasting decrease in lung function.
Most of the organisms that cause pneumonia can be spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing.
Some types of pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics or antiviral medicines. Oxygen, and sometimes a ventilator, may be needed to help a person breathe.
Antibiotics may cause rash, upset stomach, or allergic reactions.
Most people recover completely and can resume normal activities.
The healthcare professional may order periodic chest X-rays until the infection is completely gone. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare professional.