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Pneumonia

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lung caused by infection with bacteria, viruses, and other organisms. Pneumonia is usually triggered when a patient's defense system is weakened, most often by a simple viral upper respiratory tract infection or a case of influenza.

There are two main types of pneumonia: lobar and bronchial. Lobar pneumonia is when the infection invades one section, or lobe, of a lung. Bronchial pneumonia is when the pneumonia spreads to several patches in one or both lungs. Each year, about 5 million Americans develop pneumonia.

What Causes Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is usually triggered when a patient's defense system is weakened, most often by a simple viral upper respiratory tract infection or a case of influenza.

Pneumonia can also be caused by a cold or flu. This kind of pneumonia is called 'walking pneumonia'. Pneumonia can also send you to bed coughing, with chills and a fever. In some instances, if your immune system is already compromised, pneumonia can be a serious threat to your life.

The usual cause of pneumonia is a virus or bacteria. However, some types of fungi and parasites can also cause it. Pneumonia can also be caused by breathing in chemical fumes.

How is Pneumonia treated?

Pneumonia is treated with rest and medication. It can take between a week and several weeks to overcome pneumonia.

What are the Symptoms of Pneumonia?

The symptoms depend on if the pneumonia was caused by a virus or bacteria. Viral pneumonia and bacterial pneumonia have different symptoms.

Viral pneumonia usually starts out feeling like flu. The symptoms are: a mild fever, headache, and dry cough, muscles aches, and weakness. However, with pneumonia, 12 to 36 hours later, things will become worse. Your cough will get stronger and you may bring up mucus, your fever may rise, and it becomes harder to breathe.

Bacterial pneumonia can develop slowly, or it can hit you very quickly. Your fever may get as high as 105 degrees. The symptoms are: high fever, chills, sweating, racing pulse, pain in your chest, and you may cough up green or rust-colored mucus. You may also feel confused.

Complications of Pneumonia

If not treated properly, pneumonia can cause acute respiratory distress syndrome, lung abscesses (pus-filled cavities in the lung), bacteria in the blood, a collapsed lung, hemoptysis (coughing up blood), and death.

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