Time to read 3 min
Time to read 3 min
WHAT IS IT?
Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus, producing a cough, which may bring up thick phlegm.
A variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, can cause pneumonia. The condition is most serious for infants and young children, people older than age 65, and people with underlying health problems or weakened immune systems. Factors that increase your risk of developing pneumonia include:
Signs and symptoms may vary from mild to severe. Mild symptoms often are similar to those of a cold or flu, but they last longer.
Newborns and infants may not show any sign of the infection. Or they may vomit, have a fever and cough, appear restless or tired and without energy, or have difficulty breathing and eating.
Older people with pneumonia sometimes have sudden changes in mental awareness.
WHAT TESTS TO EXPECT
Your doctor will likely listen to your lungs with a stethoscope to check for abnormal bubbling or crackling sounds that indicate the presence of thick liquid.
If pneumonia is suspected, tests may be performed to make a diagnosis and determine the type of infection. They include a chest X-ray, blood and sputum tests, and oxygen level measurements.
If you have serious symptoms or an underlying health condition, other tests may include:
The goals of treatment are to cure the infection and prevent any complications. Specific treatments depend on the type and severity of your pneumonia, and your age and overall health. The options include:
Hospitalization may be necessary for severe symptoms or in people older than 65 and very young children.
To help you recover more quickly and decrease your risk of complications:
A vaccine can help prevent the most common type of pneumonia. Doctors recommend a one-time vaccine against Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria (pneumococcus) for everyone older than age 65, as well as people living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, or who smoke. A second shot may be recommended.
Excerpt From: The Mayo Clinic. “Mayo Clinic A to Z Health Guide”.