Pneumonia develops when a bacterium, virus, or fungus makes its way into one or both lungs. Such a pathogen creates inflammation fluid buildup within the tiny sacs present in the lungs. If your overall health is in good condition and you receive treatment immediately, pneumonia isn’t typically life-threatening. However, it can pose some serious risks for young children, the elderly, as well as those with pre-existing conditions or impaired immune systems.
How Pneumonia Forms
Usually, the body is able to keep out germs from the air we inhale to shield the lungs. Coughing is another mechanism that serves as a way to expel harmful substances. If germs do enter the body, our immune system typically wards them off before they can cause an infection or disease. However, if it is a powerful germ or the body fails to defend itself against it, this can lead to an infection of the lungs. When the immune system strikes against the pathogens, this causes an inflammation in the lungs, resulting in pneumonia.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
Pneumonia can present itself with a high fever accompanied by chills, breathlessness, and pain in the chest while breathing. Another common symptom is a persistent cough that is typically coupled with a lot of phlegm discharge. When these pneumonia symptoms do not have an impact on your daily life, it is known as a case of walking pneumonia, which is the result of a bacterial infection referred to as mycoplasma pneumonia. If your pneumonia symptoms are severe enough to get in the way of your daily activities, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Some bacteria are microorganisms that are naturally present in the body, such as gut bacteria, and are essential for certain bodily functions. But other types of bacteria can result in disease or infections. A majority of pneumonia cases in the United States are brought on by harmful bacteria. Treating bacterial pneumonia necessitates the use of antibiotics.
Among adults, viral pneumonia is most commonly caused by influenza (flu) virus. However, all viruses that can affect the throat, mouth, nose, or lungs can cause viral pneumonia. People with viral pneumonia typically experience less severe symptoms than those with a case of bacterial pneumonia, and the body usually flushes out the virus within a few weeks without treatment.
Just like with bacteria, there are harmless fungi and also some that can lead to pneumonia. In most cases, antifungal medications are prescribed for its treatment. This type of pneumonia is particularly tricky for those with a compromised immune system due to a condition such as HIV/AIDS or cancer treatment as they can develop a form known as pneumocystis pneumonia, which can be more severe and stubborn.
The type of pneumonia that is caused by the bacteria known as Legionella is much less prevalent, which is also referred to as Legionnaires’ disease. Legionella pneumonia symptoms include an extremely high fever coupled with chills, headache, and muscle aches. Legionnaires’ disease can also cause nausea, coughing up blood, vomiting, and diarrhea. This infection is typically caught through water and can live in things such as hot tubs and air-conditioning. Antibiotics are used to treat Legionella pneumonia.
You may not realize you are suffering from a case of pneumonia and attribute the symptoms to the common cold or the flu. Pneumonia differs from these conditions in that it is much more persistent and lasts longer. When you see a doctor about your symptoms, they will likely check for wheezing and may also order a chest X-ray to get a full picture of your lungs to reach a definitive diagnosis.
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