Pneumonia is an infection of the lung resulting from a cold or upper respiratory infection. The passages that carry air into your lungs get inflamed and filled with fluid, making it hard to breathe. This infection may be caused by a bacteria, virus, or fungus. Bacterial pneumonia is contracted simply from breathing infected air particles from the mouth, throat or nose into the lungs. Exposure may occur at school or work (called community acquired pneumonia), in a hospital (healthcare acquired pneumonia), or by breathing contaminant particles into your lungs, perhaps from vomiting or exposure to hazardous materials. Each type of pneumonia is treated differently.
- Cough with fever, breathing difficulty
- Mucus that appears rusty or green, maybe bloody
- Fever with chills
- Rapid heartbeat, breathing with shortness of breath or chest pains
- Fatigue, weakness, confusion
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Who is at risk?
Anyone with a cold or prolonged illness can easily contract pneumonia. Healthy persons may also be exposed to it simply through normal daily activities. Anyone with an impaired immune system is at greater risk of contracting pneumonia. Persons who have suffered a stroke or seizure are at risk of developing pneumonia due to the aspiration of food, vomit or other particles from the mouth or nose into the lungs.
In addition to performing a physical exam, your doctor might order a chest x-ray and blood test to help diagnose pneumonia or to determine its severity. Bacterial pneumonia will be treated with antibiotics, but typical pneumonia symptoms are treated with rest, sleep and liquids for up to three weeks. Other medications may be useful for treating the symptoms associated with pneumonia such as cough, fever and wheezing.
Emergency Warning Signs: When should I see a doctor?
Seek treatment right away if mucus coughed up from your lungs runs yellow or green for more than two days, especially with a fever over 101°F. Severe breathing difficulty should be seen in the hospital ED right away.
Treatment for Pneumonia is available now at Pulse-MD Urgent Care in Wappingers Falls, Mahopac, Mohegan Lake, Thornwood, and Poughkeepsie, NY.
For more information on Pneumonia, see the following websites:
Healthline Overview of Pneumonia
Mayo Clinic Definition of Pneumonia
Family Doctor.org on Pneumonia Prevention
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