What Is Pneumonia?

Recognizing Pneumonia Symptoms

By: - Disease & Illness - November 14, 2011
what is pneumonia recognizing pneumonia symptoms

If you have been experiencing a bad cough that will not go away with traditional treatment methods and you simply feel sick all the time, you may be suffering from pneumonia. You may be wondering just what is pneumonia? Pneumonia is a type of lung infection that can be caused by a virus, bacteria, fungi or even parasites. It can have some pretty nasty symptoms and you will probably feel really sick if you have it. Some people need to be hospitalized and if pneumonia is not taken care of, it can even be fatal, especially if you have an already weakened immune system.

If you are interested in more exact information about answering the question “what is pneumonia?” it is, in more detail, extreme inflammation of the alveoli in the lungs. The alveoli are the sacs that make up the lungs. Their primary job is to absorb the oxygen from the air that you breathe. When they are inflamed you will find you will not be able to breathe well, it may be painful to breathe, and you will be unable to get all of the oxygen your body needs. When your body doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can begin to shut down. As you can see from this explanation, pneumonia is nothing that you should take lightly.

As mentioned above, there are several causes to pneumonia. Bacterial and viral pneumonia are the most common types of pneumonia. When the person who has pneumonia first contacts the disease, the organisms will settle nicely in the alveoli and begin multiplying, which caused the inflammation. The alveoli are filling up with fluid which means they cannot accept oxygen. The bacteria called Streptococcus pneumonia is the most common form of pneumonia but if you have certain conditions such as COPD, alcoholism, Legionnaire’s disease, cancer, AIDS or rheumatoid arthritis you are more at risk for other types of pneumonia. Typically bacterial pneumonia is able to be treated with antibiotics.

The other type of pneumonia, viral pneumonia, cannot be treated with antibiotics. You must rely on your own immune system to get the virus under control. Viruses like rhinovirus, which is the common cold and the influenza virus, the flu are both causes of viral pneumonia. If you have been traveling to an exotic locale or in a third world country, you may also get pneumonia caused by a fungi or parasites. This is very rare in the US and Canada, but if you even suspect it, you may need to seek medical attention immediately. You now have a good overview and enough information to answer the question “what is pneumonia?”

There are certain people who are more at risk for pneumonia than others. People who smoke or use drugs or alcohol are much more susceptible to pneumonia than others are. This group is also more at risk for a severe case of pneumonia that requires hospitalization. Another group of people who are more at risk to get pneumonia are those with weakened immune systems. This includes children, the elderly, those who have an immunodeficiency disease or those who have recently been ill. Finally, people who work around chemicals or who have conditions where their body may make excess mucus are more susceptible than other to get pneumonia. You should keep in mind, anyone can get pneumonia, the groups listed above are simply more at risk than a person who is not in one of those risk groups.

If you suspect in any way that you may have pneumonia, you should get into see a doctor as soon as possible. There are several pneumonia symptoms and they tend to be the similar no matter what form of the disease you may have. Typically bacterial pneumonia symptoms will appear quicker than other forms of the disease. Most people will notice pneumonia symptoms appear first as a cold or flu. They will soon begin noticing high fever, productive cough and chills. Additional pneumonia symptoms will include shortness of breath, obvious mucus buildup in the lungs, wheezing, chest pain when breathing in, quick heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, muscle aches and red or greenish sputum.

When you see the doctor, which is extremely important if you think you may have pneumonia, you will be diagnosed beginning with a physical exam. The doctor may be able to tell by listening to your chest or may make a diagnosis based on your medical history, risk factors and symptoms. You may also need to get a chest x-ray, blood work or even have to give a sputum sample for diagnosis.

The treatment of pneumonia will depend on the cause and severity of the disease. In most cases, antibiotics will be used for bacterial forms, rest, over the counter pain relievers and liquids will be used for the viral forms and anti-fungal or anti-parasitic medications will be used for the other types. If the pneumonia is severe or is resistant to treatment, hospitalization may be required. When in the hospital, appropriate treatment, based on the type, will be administered.

Prevention is the best line of defense against pneumonia. There are vaccines you can take in order to prevent the disease and you should especially consider them if you are in a risk group. Finally you should simply use common sense, such as washing your hands before eating, take multi-vitamins to keep your immune system strong and stay away from those who are coughing.