Pneumonia

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is inflammation of the airspaces in the lungs, most commonly due to an infection. Pneumonia is generally more serious when it affects older adults, infants and young children, those with chronic medical conditions, or those with weakened immune function.

Causes

  • Pneumonia may be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi; less frequently by other causes.
  • The most common bacterial type that causes pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae.
  • The most common cause of viral pneumonia in adults is the influenza virus. 
  •  Fungi that cause pneumonia include Cryptococcus, Histoplasma, and Coccidioides. 

 

Symptoms and Signs

Symptoms and signs of pneumonia may be mild or severe and depend upon person’s overall state of health as well as the type of organism causing pneumonia. Severe symptoms of pneumonia include

  • Cough
  • Chest pain when breathing or coughing,
  • Laboured breathing or shortness of breath
  • Coughing up phlegm
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea are other possible symptoms that can accompany the respiratory symptoms.

 

Treatment

Antibiotic medications are the treatment of choice for pneumonia caused by bacterial and fungal infections. The exact choice of medications depends on many factors, including the following:

  • The organism responsible for the infection
  • The likelihood that the organism is resistant to certain antibiotics
  • The patient's underlying health condition
  • Against viral pneumonia, antibiotics are not effective. Depending upon the type of virus that causes pneumonia, antiviral medications can provide benefit when started early. For example, Tamiflu, Relenza etc. are used to treat influenza virus infections. Antifungal agents can be used to treat most fungal pneumonias.

 

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