About Pneumonia

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages and is the leading cause of death in children younger than 5 years of age. These infections can be prevented with vaccines and can usually be treated with antibiotics, antiviral drugs, or specific drug therapies.

Reference: http://www.cdc.gov/pneumonia/

Who Can Get Pneumonia?

Risk factors that increase your chance of getting pneumonia include:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Recent viral respiratory infection – a cold, laryngitis, influenza, etc.
  • Difficulty swallowing due to stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or other neurological conditions
  • Chronic lung disease such as COPD, bronchiectasis, or cystic firbrosis
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Other serious illnesses, such as heart disease, liver cirrhosis, or diabetes
  • Living in a nursing facility
  • Recent surgery or trauma
  • Having a weekend immune system due to illness, certain medications, and autoimmune disorders

How Does Pneumonia Affect the Body?

Most of the time, the body filters germs out of the air that we breathe. This keeps the lungs from becoming infected. But germs sometimes find a way to enter the lungs and cause infections. This is more likely to occur when:

  • Your immune system is weak.
  • A germ is very strong.
  • Your body fails to filter germs out of the air that you breathe.

When the germs that cause pneumonia reach your lungs, the lungs' air sacs (alveoli) become inflamed and fill up with fluid and pus. This causes the symptoms of pneumonia, such as a cough, fever, chills, and trouble breathing.

When you have pneumonia, oxygen has trouble reaching your blood. If there is too little oxygen in your blood, your body cells can't work properly. Because of this and infection spreading through the body, pneumonia can cause death.

Pneumonia affects your lungs in two ways. Lobar pneumonia affects a section (lobe) of a lung. Bronchial pneumonia (or bronchopneumonia) affects patches throughout both lungs.

Reference: http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/pneumonia/understanding-pneumonia.html

How Serious is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia can be very serious and can cause death.

Pneumonia tends to be more serious for infants and young children, older adults (people 65 years or older), people who have other chronic health problems, and people who have weak immune systems as a result of diseases or other factors.

If you develop pneumonia, your chances of a fast recovery are greatest if:

  • You are Young
  • Your pneumonia is caught early
  • Your immune system – your body’s defense against disease-are working well
  • The infection hasn’t spread
  • You are not suffering from other illnesses
  • A germ is very strong.
  • Your body fails to filter germs out of the air that you breathe.

If you have taken antibiotics, your doctor may want to make sure your chest x-ray becomes normal again after you finish the whole prescription. It may take many weeks for your x-ray to clear up.

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