Pneumonia – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an acute inflammation of the lungs, caused by Streptococcus Pneumoniae bacterium. Symptoms include fever, cough with blood-tinged phlegm and difficult breathing.
It causes air sacs to become filled with pus or fluid and is accompanied by a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. It can be life-threatening and in many cases, it can be treated with antiviral medications or antibiotics.
Symptoms (Warning Signs) of Pneumonia
Symptoms include the following. You may or may not get all these warning signs before you become sick.
- Fever – as high as 105 F
- Cough with bloody, greenish or yellow mucus
- Lack of appetite
- Sharp chest pain especially when you cough or take a deep breath
- Fever and sweating
- Lips and fingernails turning blue
- Confusion especially in the elderly
- Very fast heartbeat and shortness of breath
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
Pneumonia in Children
Pneumonia in children can range from mild to moderate to severe and the symptoms will progressively become more serious depending on the severity of the illness. Below are some of the symptoms you need to watch for in your children if you suspect they may have this lung infection.
- Cough and sore throat
- Fever and nasal congestion
- Diarrhea and lack of appetite
- Tiredness or lack of energy
- Sweating, chills and flushed skin
- Wheezing and difficulty breathing
- Being limp or lethargic
- Crying more than usual
- Feeding poorly and vomiting
- Being irritable or restless
Causes of Pneumonia
There are several things that can cause pneumonia, and even healthy people can develop the illness. You can acquire the lung infection in your daily life or while you are being treated for other illnesses in a healthcare setting.
Through Daily Activities
This form of pneumonia may develop as you are living your day-to-day life outside of a healthcare institution. There are different types of community-acquired pneumonia:
Through a Virus
Viral Pneumonia occurs when the lung infection is caused by a virus, such as a cold, influenza, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). This is the most common cause of pneumonia in children under the age of two. While this is a mild type of pneumonia for most people, it can turn into a serious health issue.
Bacterial pneumonia affects one lobe of the lung and can be caused by different types of bacteria. It may develop after you have been sick with another illness, but it can also occur on its own. You may also become infected by bacteria-like organisms, which can cause a mild form of the disease.
Bird droppings and soil contain fungi, which can cause the infection if you have a weakened immune system or if you have breathed in the organisms.
If you inhale saliva, vomit, food, or drink into your lungs, you may develop aspiration pneumonia. The aspiration may occur due to a brain injury, illness, or the use of drugs or alcohol.
This type of infection is caused by bacteria that are present in outpatient clinics or long-term care facilities. These can be difficult to treat with antibiotics because the bacteria are often resistant to antibiotics.
Some people develop lung infections while they are being treated in a hospital for another illness. Like health care-acquired infection, it can be difficult to treat.
When to Seek Emergency Room Treatment for Pneumonia
If you suspect that you have the disease, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. The earlier the infection is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. Go to a 24-hour emergency center immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
If you are experiencing symptoms of pneumonia, visit one of our emergency rooms in Houston, Austin or College Station. Our emergency rooms (ER) are open 24/7 to diagnose and treat most medical emergencies.