Pneumonia is a lung infection that can be caused by a virus, bacteria, fungi or other environmental exposure. It's a serious illness that requires professional medical treatment. Most healthy people with pneumonia recover within one to three weeks, but it can be life-threatening in some situations.
Most of the time, the lungs do a good job filtering out intruders so that pneumonia does not develop. But in the case of a severe illness or when immunity is compromised, the air sacs in the lungs can get inflamed. This leads to a variety of complications that cause pneumonia.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
Pneumonia symptoms can range from mild to severe. The most commonly seen symptoms are shortness of breath, coughing, fever and chills. People with pneumonia may also experience fatigue, confusion, headaches, sweating and a sharp pain when breathing. Over time, pneumonia can lead to a lack of oxygen in the blood, which causes other alarming symptoms like blue lips or confusion and deliriousness. That’s why it's important that those with pneumonia be under the care of a doctor.
Prevention and Treatment
The steps for preventing a pneumonia infection are similar to those for preventing the flu. In fact, flu is a common cause of pneumonia, so getting a seasonal flu shot is important. It's also important to wash hands frequently and avoid others who are sick.
The treatment for pneumonia varies based on the type. For example, bacterial pneumonia can be treated with common antibiotics, but viral pneumonia cannot. Most healthy people with pneumonia, however, will benefit from rest, fluid intake and taking over-the-counter pain relievers. In some cases, cough suppressants should be avoided, as they can keep mucus in the lungs that should be coughed up in order to relieve pneumonia symptoms.
In more serious instances, pneumonia may require hospitalization. There, a person might receive oxygen therapy and other breathing treatments to keep safe while recovering from pneumonia.
SOURCE:American Lung Association
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