Pneumonia by Helen Kuang

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According to Mayo Clinic, pneumonia an infection that inflames the alveoli or ravioli) in one or both lungs. The alveoli may fill with fluid or pus (purulent material), causing cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing.

Causes of Pneumonia

The most common causes are bacteria and viruses in the air we breathe. Pneumonia is classified according to the types of germs that cause it and where you got the infection.

Community-acquired pneumonia --- most common type of pneumonia. It occurs outside of hospitals or other health care facilities. It may be caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

Hospital --- catching pneumonia during a hospital stay for another illness.

Health care-acquired pneumonia --- a bacterial infection that occurs in people who live in long-term care facilities or who receive care in outpatient clinics, including kidney dialysis centers.

Aspiration pneumonia --- occurs when you inhale food, drink, vomit or saliva into your lungs.

Signs and Symptons

The signs and symptoms of pneumonia vary depending on factors such as the type of germ causing the infection, the age and overall health. Mild signs and symptoms often are similar to those of a cold or flu, but they last longer.

Signs and symptoms of pneumonia may include:

- Chest pain when you breathe or cough

- Confusion or changes in mental awareness (in adults age 65 and older)

- Cough, which may produce phlegm

- Fatigue

- Fever, sweating and shaking chills

- Lower than normal body temperature (in adults older than age 65 and people with weak immune systems)

- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

- Shortness of breath

Treatment for Pneumonia

People who have community-acquired pneumonia usually can be treated at home with medication. Specific treatments depend on the type and severity of pneumonia, the age and overall health. The options include:

Antibiotics --- used to treat bacterial pneumonia.

Cough medicine --- used to calm the cough so patients can rest. But coughing helps loosen and move fluid from the lungs, so it's a good idea not to eliminate cough completely.

Fever reducers/pain relievers ---take as needed for fever and discomfort. Includes drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).

Preventing Pneumonia

To prevent pneumonia, people can get a pneumococcal vaccination if they have diseases that affect their immune system (like diabetes, HIV infection, or cancer), are 65 years or older, or are in other high-risk groups.

Also, doctors recommend that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot, because someone with the flu could then come down with pneumonia.

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Helen Kuang
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