Pneumonia is an infection of
the lungs involving the lung air sacs. These air sacs are the
portion of the lungs that contain the air exchanged during breathing.
Pneumonia is a very common disease, in one form of the other it
continues to be a leading cause of death in the United States and the
world. Pneumonia infections which occur in the community excluding
those acquired in the hospitals or term care facilities are called
community acquired Pneumonia. It is the sixth leading cause of
death in the United States. Pneumonia is most common among
people of older and younger ages, usually those less than 5 years and
older than 60 years. The major symptoms of Pneumonia are cough,
fever, chest pain and difficulty breathing. It most often begins
after a mild cold or upper respiratory tract infection like sinus
infection or even ear infection. Most patients complain of
weakness or feeling not well. Cough usually lingers on, along with
chills and some severe cases, mild confusion may also occur. The
single most important tool to assist the physician in the diagnosis of
pneumonia is a chest X-ray. It is very important to diagnose the
presence of pneumonia but to
|also make sure pneumonia is not
present. The physician would often listen to the lungs to hear typical
sounds called rales and bronchial breath sounds. Other signs
includes dullness in the chest, fever and other signs of infection.
Some laboratory tests are helpful including, complete blood count (CBC),
sputum cultures, and analysis, blood cultures and serum electrolytes.
In more unusual cases other special types of blood tests for chlamydia,
legionella may be helpful. Treatment depends on the bacteria
causing the particular pneumonia in eahc patient. A family of bacteria
called streptooccus pneumonia are most common. Most infections are
quite responsive to antibiotic treatment especially if treated early.
However, resistant strains are becoming increasingly common, especially
in late treated or hospitalized cases. The rate of death for
patients treated in doctors offices and out patient clinic are
||generally low, at less than one
percent. However, for late treatment and hospitalized cases it
rises from 2% to 30% and up to 50% in intensive care units patients.
These rates are especially prevalent in elderly patients, diabetics,
patients with chronic disease like sarcoidosis, immune deficiency
disease, morbid obesity, malignancies and patients in extreme ages.
Early recognition of sysmptoms in probably the single most important
intervention in the treatment of pneumonia. It is important to
recognize that pneumonia is a potentially fatal disease.
Prevention for patients at risk is available in vaccines. Flu
vaccines are also quite helpful to prevent flu which can often attack
patients before pneumonia. Once any of the symptoms of pneumonia
is suspected, early diagnoses and treatment by a physician is
|STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO PREVENT PNEUMONIA:
1. Take the pneumonia and flu vaccine before the flu season
especially for patients at high risk like diabetics immune
deficient patients, elderly patients, and other chronically ill
2. Avoid exposure to extreme cold, dress warm and avoid expending
much time in areas with increase cold temperatures.
3. At the first sign of upper respiratory tract infection,
increase intake of vitamin C and take liberal amounts of fruits
also rich in vitamin C.
4. Once symptoms have occurred, avoid any strenuous exercise
especially in extreme cold temperatures, take liberal amounts of
fluids like juices and obtain as mush rest as possible.
5. Once symptoms persist, seek medical treatment early, do not
wait until you have to be assisted to seek medical care.