Pneumonia refers to a lung infection that also causes inflammation. This results in difficulty in breathing. This condition is accompanied by various symptoms which are dependent on a number of factors.
What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lung. It can be caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. Pneumonia causes inflammation in your lung’s air sacs, or alveoli. The alveoli fill with fluid or pus, making it difficult to breathe.
Symptoms of pneumonia can range from mild to life-threatening. The severity of your pneumonia usually depends on:
The cause of your inflammation
The type of organism causing your infection
Your general health
Pneumonia symptoms are not uniform in that they vary from one person to the other. It all depends on the kind of infection you might have plus how old you are. There are also symptoms that are common like coughing hence the need for a proper diagnosis.
What Are the Symptoms of Pneumonia?
Pneumonia symptoms can vary from mild to severe, depending on the type of pneumonia you have, your age and health.
The most common symptoms of pneumonia are:
Cough (with some pneumonias you may cough up greenish or yellow mucus, or even bloody mucus)
Fever, which may be mild or high
Shortness of breath, which may only occur when you climb stairs
Additional symptoms include:
Sharp or stabbing chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or cough
Excessive sweating and clammy skin
Loss of appetite, low energy, and fatigue
Confusion, especially in older people
Symptoms also can vary, depending on whether your pneumonia is bacterial or viral.
If left untreated pneumonia can lead to death. The mode of treatment is basically determined by the type of pneumonia or how severe it is. You are expected to drink lots of water to help flush out the toxins being destroyed by antibiotics.
Pneumonia can be serious so it’s important to get treatment quickly. The main treatment for pneumonia is antibiotics, along with rest and drinking plenty of water. If you have chest pain, you can take pain killers such as paracetamol.
Treatment depends on how severe your pneumonia is.
If you have mild pneumonia, you may be able to manage it at home with treatment from your GP, especially if you have support from family and friends.
Your GP will prescribe a five-day course of antibiotics, which you’ll probably take as tablets. If you don’t start to feel better after three days, tell your GP – you may need a longer course of antibiotics.
More severe pneumonia
Some people are too ill to be treated at home and need to go to hospital.
If you’re too ill to drink and take tablets, you can have fluids and antibiotics through a drip in your arm.
You’ll also have access to oxygen if you need it, and the hospital staff can regularly check your temperature and breathing to see how you’re doing.
You’ll usually be given two different kinds of antibiotics at the same time. You may have to take antibiotics for seven to ten days – but you won’t necessarily have to stay in hospital that long.