What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Pneumonia
Infants and newborns may not show specific symptoms of pneumonia. Instead, the baby or child may appear restless or lethargic. A baby or child with pneumonia may also have a fever or cough or vomit. Older adults or those who have weak immune systems may also have fewer symptoms and a lower temperature. A change in mental status, such as confusion, can develop in older adults with pneumonia.
What Health Complications Can Pneumonia Lead To
If you have flu-like symptoms that persist or worsen despite treatment, talk to your doctor.
Your doctor can monitor your lungs while you inhale, listening for crackling sounds that are audible only with a stethoscope.
In order to confirm the diagnosis and identify the specific germ causing the illness, you may get a chest X-ray as well as a blood test, depending on your medical history and physical exam, if your doctor suspects that you have pneumonia.
If left untreated, pneumonia can become severe.
People with severe pneumonia experience higher fevers along with GI symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea, as well as:
- Difficulty breathing
Where Can You Acquire Pneumonia
You can get pneumonia from a variety of different places, which include:
- Community-acquired pneumonia . This is pneumonia that you get outside of a hospital or healthcare facility. Its estimated that CAP is the third most common cause of hospitalization in people ages 65 years and older.
- Healthcare-associated pneumonia. This is pneumonia that you acquire while in a healthcare facility. Older adults who are hospitalized or in a long-term care facility may be at an increased risk for this type of pneumonia.
- Aspiration pneumonia. This happens when you inhale things like food, saliva, or vomit into your lungs. Older individuals with swallowing disorders can be at higher risk for developing this type of pneumonia.
You May Like: How Often To Get Pneumonia Vaccine After Age 65
Pneumonia Symptoms Risk Factors & Natural Treatments
Pneumonia is the single largest infectious cause of death in children globally, killing more than 2,500 children a day worldwide. Its also to blame for up to 7 percent of all deaths in adults. According to the American Lung Association, believe it or not there are more than 30 different causes of pneumonia. Luckily not every case is very serious or life-threatening, especially those considered to be walking pneumonia, a milder type that rarely requires serious intervention or hospitalization to deal with pneumonia symptoms.
The most common cause of pneumonia infections is complications due to other respiratory illnesses, especially the flu. Other reasons you or your child might come down with pneumonia? These include contact with certain fungi or viruses, catching pneumonia from someones who infected, or even exposure to indoor air pollution and toxic chemicals.
The severity of pneumonia symptoms that someone experiences depends on factors like the specific type of pneumonia the person has , medical history, age and strength of the immune system. If you have viral pneumonia, unfortunately you also are at risk for getting bacterial pneumonia too making pneumonia symptoms even worse and complications more likely.
What Tests Diagnose Pneumonia
The diagnosis of pneumonia always begins with taking a medical history and performing a physical examination to look for characteristic signs. In particular, listening to the lungs may reveal areas where sound is diminished, wheezing, or crackling sounds in affected areas. Some commonly performed diagnostic tests are as follows:
- A chest X-ray is able to illustrate whether or not pneumonia is present, but it does not provide information about the organism responsible for the infection.
- In some cases, a chest CT scan may be performed. This will reveal more detail than the chest X-ray.
- Pulse oximetry measures the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. The test involves a painless sensor attached to the finger or ear. Blood levels of oxygen may be reduced in pneumonia.
- Microbiology tests to identify the causative organism. Tests may be performed on blood or sputum. Rapid urine tests are available to identify Streptococcus pneumoniae and Legionella pneumophila. Cultures of blood or sputum not only identify the responsible organism but can also be examined to determine which antibiotics are effective against a particular bacterial strain.
- Bronchoscopy is a procedure in which a thin, lighted tube is inserted into the trachea and major airways. This allows the doctor to visualize the inside of the airways and take tissue samples if needed. Bronchoscopy may be performed in patients with severe pneumonia or if pneumonia worsens despite antibiotic treatment.
Recommended Reading: Does Pneumonia Have A Wet Or Dry Cough
What Are The Treatment Options
Viral pneumonia usually goes away on its own. Therefore, treatment focuses on easing some of the symptoms. A person with viral pneumonia should get sufficient rest and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
A doctor may prescribe cough-relieving medication to help ease coughing. People should only take cough suppressant medicine if and when a doctor instructs them to because coughing helps clear the infection from the lungs. For those with thick lung mucus, a doctor may prescribe a cough expectorant.
In some cases of viral pneumonia, a doctor may prescribe antiviral medication to reduce viral activity. This treatment tends to be most effective when the virus is in the early stage of infection.
In rare instances, a doctor may hospitalize a person with viral pneumonia. People over the age of 65 or with chronic health conditions are more likely to need hospital care. The very young are also at higher risk for serious viral pneumonia.
The viruses that cause viral pneumonia are contagious. During the cold and flu season, a person can take steps to stay healthy. These steps may protect against viral pneumonia and other viral illnesses.
Some techniques that people can use to try to prevent getting sick include:
How Can I Prevent Pneumonia
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccination for:
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccination for:
If you have been experiencing pneumonia symptoms, make an appointmentwith your provider today. Prompt treatment of pneumonia isimportant for recovery. Requestan appointment with a family medicine provider to receive your flu andpneumococcal vaccinations.
Read Also: Does Rite Aid Give Pneumonia Shots
A Prompt Diagnosis For Proper Treatment
If you suspect your loved one may have pneumonia, you should call a doctor right away. Earlier diagnosis can lead to faster treatment that promotes better outcomes especially for seniors who are at a higher risk of developing serious complications.
A doctor will conduct a physical exam and may order imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment will depend on whether the pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses, or other types of infection.
Bacterial pneumonia comes on gradually or suddenly and is typically treated with antibiotics.
Viral pneumonia usually develops over several days and may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, so viral pneumonia is generally treated with supportive care such as increased fluid intake, over-the-counter medications, and rest.
Older adults who experience severe pneumonia symptoms or have other health problems may need to be hospitalized. While in the hospital, treatment may include intravenous antibiotics, respiratory therapy, and oxygen therapy. Doctors will also watch for signs of complications.
Which Types Of Doctors Treat Pneumonia
In some cases, primary care physicians, including pediatricians, internists, and family medicine specialists, may manage the care for patients with pneumonia. In more severe cases, other types of specialists may be involved in treating the patient with pneumonia. These include infectious-disease specialists, pulmonologists, critical care specialists, and hospitalists.
You May Like: Early Warning Signs Of Pneumonia
What Stands Out About Yale Medicines Approach To Pneumonia
Pneumonia is a common infection in both children and adults and can often be easily treated. However, if specialized care is required, Yale Medicine physicians practice at both Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale New Haven Childrens Hospital.
Furthermore, our researchers are involved in developing ways to more quickly and accurately diagnose lung infections through the Yale Center for Pulmonary Infection Research and Treatment . We dont tend to think of pneumonia as a chronic condition. But some patients end up with longer-term problems, says Dr. Dela Cruz, director of the CPIRT. The center focuses on finding new potential treatment options and running clinical trials to better understand the disease.
Other Ways To Help Prevent Pneumonia
You also can take the following steps to help prevent pneumonia:
- Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based rubs to kill germs.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking damages your lungs’ ability to filter out and defend against germs. For information about how to quit smoking, read Smoking and Your Heart. Although this resource focuses on heart health, it includes general information about how to quit smoking.
- Keep your immune system strong. Get plenty of rest and physical activity and follow a healthy diet. Read more about heart-healthy eating and physical activity.
Don’t Miss: Who Can Get A Pneumonia Shot
When To Call The Doctor
You should call your childs doctor if your child:
- Has trouble breathing or is breathing much faster than usual
- Has a bluish or gray color to the fingernails or lips
- Is older than 6 months and has a fever over 102°F
- Is younger than 6 months and has a temperature over 100.4°F.
- Has a fever for more than a few days after taking antibiotics
When your child should stay home and return to school or childcare
What Are The Stages Of Pneumonia
Pneumonia can be classified or characterized in different ways. Health care professionals often refer to pneumonia based upon the way that the infection is acquired, such as community-acquired pneumonia or hospital-acquired pneumonia.
- Community-acquired pneumonia , as the name implies, is a respiratory infection of the lung that develops outside of the hospital or health care environment. It is more common than hospital-acquired pneumonia. CAP is most common in winter and affects about 4 million people a year in the U.S.
- Hospital-acquired pneumonia is acquired when an individual is already hospitalized for another condition. HAP is generally more serious because it develops in ill patients already hospitalized or under medical care for another condition. Being on a ventilator for respiratory support increases the risk of acquiring HAP. Health care-associated pneumonia is acquired from other health care settings, like kidney dialysis centers, outpatient clinics, or nursing homes.
Other classification systems for pneumonia describe the way the inflammatory cells infiltrate the lung tissue or the appearance of the affected tissue .
Recommended Reading: How Often Do You Have To Take The Pneumonia Shot
Can I Prevent Pneumonia
The routine vaccinations that most people receive as kids help prevent certain types of pneumonia and other infections. If you have a chronic illness, such as sickle cell disease, you may have received extra vaccinations and disease-preventing antibiotics to help prevent pneumonia and other infections caused by bacteria.
People should get a pneumococcal vaccination if they have diseases that affect their immune system , are 65 years or older, or are in other high-risk groups. Depending on the bugs that are likely to affect them, these people also may get antibiotics to prevent pneumonia, as well as antiviral medicine to prevent or lessen the effects of viral pneumonia.
Doctors recommend that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot. Thatâs because someone with the flu could then come down with pneumonia. Call your doctorâs office or check your local health department to see when these vaccines are available.
Because pneumonia is often caused by germs, a good way to prevent it is to keep your distance from anyone you know who has pneumonia or other respiratory infections. Use separate drinking glasses and eating utensils wash your hands often with warm, soapy water and avoid touching used tissues and paper towels.
You also can stay strong and help avoid some of the illnesses that might lead to pneumonia by eating as healthily as possible, getting a minimum of 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night, and not smoking.
More Severe Cases May Also Cause:
- quick breathing
- rapid heartbeat
- nausea and vomiting
Some people get a sharp pain in their chest when they breathe in and out. This may be because the thin lining between the lung and ribcage, called the pleura, is infected and inflamed. This inflammation, called pleurisy, stops your lungs moving smoothly as you breathe.
The symptoms of pneumonia are often very similar to those of other chest infections, such as bronchitis, COPD flare-ups or bronchiectasis flare-ups. To get a proper diagnosis youll need to visit your GP.
If you feel unwell with these symptoms, see your GP or call 111. If you have chest pain, a rapid heartbeat, quick breathing, shivers or confusion, get urgent advice from your GP or call 999. Take extra care if youre over 65.
You May Like: Treatment For Pneumonia In Elderly
Pneumonia Causes And Risk Factors
How do you get pneumonia exactly, and who has the highest risk of developing this illness?
Pneumonia is caused by a variety of infectious agents and develops when the lungs become filled with pus and mucus, making it hard to breath, get enough oxygen and control coughing. The parts of the the lungs that are most affected by pneumonia infections are called the alveoli, which are small sacs that normally fill up with air/oxygen and allow for someone to breathe properly.
While people of all ages and levels of health can develop pneumonia for many different reasons, researchers believe that there are five main infectious agents to blame that are the primary causes of pneumonia:
- Certain types of harmful bacteria, which lead to infection of the lungs. These most commonly include Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae type b . Pneumocystis jiroveci is another type of bacteria thats associated with death due to pneumonia in children with viruses, such as HIV.
- Certain types of viruses. This type of pneumonia is often called respiratory syncytial virus.
- Mycoplasma, which contributes to walking pneumonia most often.
- Infection due to other organisms, including fungi.
- Exposure to certain toxic chemicals that weaken the immune system.
Infectious agents that cause pneumonia can be transmitted from person to person or spread from certain parts of someones body to the lungs. Some of the ways these agents are passed include someone:
Risk factors for pneumonia include:
What About The Influenza And Pneumococcal Vaccines
Because the flu is a common cause of pneumonia, consider getting your flu vaccine. This is one of the reasons we recommend the flu vaccine, because not only can you get the flu virus and feel really miserable, but you can end up with a secondary bacterial infection which could be very serious or even fatal, Dr. Cameron says.
There is also a pneumococcal vaccine, which offers protection from a common form of bacterial pneumonia. The shot is recommended for children younger than 5 and adults 65 and older. It is also advised for children and adults who are at an increased risk of pneumonia due to other health conditions.
Read Also: How Does Pneumonia Sound In Adults
Take Steps To Protect Yourself And Others
The following steps can help you prevent spreading the infection to others around you.
- Cover your nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing.
- Get rid of used tissues right away.
- Limit contact with family and friends.
- Wash your hands often, especially after coughing and sneezing.
Some people get pneumonia again and again. Tell your doctor if this happens. Return to Prevention to find more strategies to help prevent pneumonia.
Who Is Most At Risk For Getting Pneumonia
People who have an increased risk of pneumonia include:
- People over the age of 65 and infants under age 2. The weakening immune system of older people makes them less able to fight off illnesses. Similarly, the immune system of infants is still developing and not at full-strength, making them more susceptible to infection.
- People with a health-caused weakened immune system. Examples include:
- People who are receiving chemotherapy
- Transplanted organ recipients
- People who have HIV/AIDS
- People with autoimmune disease and who are taking medications that suppress the immune system.
You May Like: Does The Pneumonia Vaccine Work