Pneumonia (patient information)

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For the WikiDoc page on Pneumonia, click here.

For the WikiDoc page on Community-acquired pneumonia, click here.

Pneumonia

Overview

What are the symptoms?

What are the causes?

Who is at highest risk?

When to seek urgent medical care?

Diagnosis

Treatment options

Where to find medical care for Pneumonia?

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

Possible complications

Prevention

Pneumonia On the Web

Ongoing Trials at Clinical Trials.gov

Images of Pneumonia

Videos on Pneumonia

FDA on Pneumonia

CDC on Pneumonia

Pneumonia in the news

Blogs on Pneumonia

Directions to Hospitals Treating Pneumonia

Risk calculators and risk factors for Pneumonia

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Assistant Editor-in-Chief: Alexandra M. Palmer

Overview

Pneumonia is a respiratory condition in which there is inflammation of the lung. Community-acquired pneumonia refers to pneumonia in people who have not recently been in the hospital or another health care facility (nursing home, rehabilitation facility).

What are the symptoms of Pneumonia?

The most common symptoms of pneumonia are:

Additional symptoms include:

What causes Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a common illness that affects millions of people each year in the United States. Germs called bacteria, viruses, and fungi may cause pneumonia.

Ways you can get pneumonia include:

Pneumonia caused by bacteria tends to be the most serious. In adults, bacteria are the most common cause of pneumonia.

Viruses are also a common cause of pneumonia, especially in infants and young children.

See also: Respiratory syncytial virus

Who is at highest risk?

Risk factors (conditions that increase your chances of getting pneumonia) include:

When to seek urgent medical care?

Call your doctor if you have:

Infants with pneumonia may not have a cough. Call your doctor if your infant makes grunting noises or the area below the rib cage is retracting while breathing.

Diagnosis

If you have pneumonia, you may be working hard to breathe, or breathing fast. Crackles are heard when listening to your chest with a stethoscope. Other abnormal breathing sounds may also be heard through the stethoscope or via percussion (tapping on your chest wall). The health care provider will likely order a chest x-ray if pneumonia is suspected. Some patients may need other tests, including:

Treatment options

Your doctor must first decide whether you need to be in the hospital. If you are treated in the hospital, you will receive fluids and antibiotics in your veins, oxygen therapy, and possibly breathing treatments. It is very important that your antibiotics are started very soon after you are admitted. You are more likely to be admitted to the hospital if you:

  • Have another serious medical problem
  • Have severe symptoms
  • Are unable to care for yourself at home, or are unable to eat or drink
  • Are older than 65 or a young child
  • Have been taking antibiotics at home and are not getting better

However, many people can be treated at home. If bacteria are causing the pneumonia, the doctor will try to cure the infection with antibiotics. It may be hard for your health care provider to know whether you have a viral or bacterial pneumonia, so you may receive antibiotics. Patients with mild pneumonia who are otherwise healthy are sometimes treated with oral macrolide antibiotics (azithromycin, clarithromycin, or erythromycin). Patients with other serious illnesses, such as heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or emphysema, kidney disease, or diabetes are often given one of the following:

If the cause is a virus, typical antibiotics will NOT be effective. Sometimes, however, your doctor may use antiviral medication. You can take these steps at home:

Where to find medical care for Pneumonia?

Directions to Hospitals Treating Pneumonia

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

With treatment, most patients will improve within 2 weeks. Elderly or debilitated patients may need longer treatment.

Those who may be more likely to have complicated pneumonia include:

Your doctor may want to make sure your chest x-ray becomes normal again after you take a course of antibiotics. However, it may take many weeks for your x-ray to clear up.

Possible complications

Possible complications include:

Prevention

Wash your hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose, going to the bathroom, diapering, and before eating or preparing foods. Don't smoke. Tobacco damages your lung's ability to ward off infection. Vaccines may help prevent pneumonia in children, the elderly, and people with diabetes, asthma, emphysema, HIV, cancer, or other chronic conditions:

If you have cancer or HIV, talk to your doctor about additional ways to prevent pneumonia and other infections.

Sources

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000145.htm



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