Pneumonia is a bacterial or viral infection that causes the air sacs in your lungs to fill up with fluid or pus, reducing the amount of oxygen that reaches your bloodstream. Symptoms vary based on severity; mild cases mirror the symptoms of a cold or the flu.
Should I See A Doctor?
To avoid hospitalization or serious complications, visit a doctor if you have difficulty breathing, prolonged fever, or persistent coughing. High risk patients should also see a doctor as soon as possible. These include infants below the age of two, elderly over the age of 65, and people with a suppressed immune system.
To diagnose pneumonia, your doctor will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope. If they hear irregular noises such as a crackling or bubbling, they will order a chest X-ray. Some patients may also receive a blood test, CT scan, or bronchoscopy.
Treatment of Pneumonia
Doctors fight pneumonia using antibiotic or antiviral drugs and expect to see improvement of symptoms in two to three days. The drug used will depend on your symptoms and their severity, your age, and your general health. The doctor may also recommend that you take certain over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen or Tylenol to reduce fever and other symptoms. Personal care through proper hydration and rest is very important as well. Drinking lots of water will help loosen phlegm and other secretions in your lungs. Rest will help your immune system stay strong while it fights off the bacteria or virus causing your pneumonia.
Severe cases of pneumonia can lead to hospitalization. In these cases, your physicians may administer intravenous antibiotics, respiratory therapy which delivers medication straight to your lungs, and oxygen therapy which maintains your blood oxygen levels.
Pneumonia can infect anyone and has more than 30 different causes, including the flu. Practice good hand-washing habits and minimize contact with infected individuals to keep yourself healthy. If you have any questions, reach out to us with the contact form on the right or give us a call at (773)309-6740.