Pneumonia is caused by a virus, bacteria (known as germs), or fungi. Bacteria are the most common cause of pneumonia, which can get into your lungs and cause the inflammation and infection. People with an illness like the cold or flu have a weakened immune system and can therefore develop pneumonia more easily. Chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes or asthma make you more susceptible to getting pneumonia. You can get pneumonia from the bacteria living in your sinuses, mouth or nose that spread to your lungs, from inhaling certain liquids, food or fluids into your lungs or breathing the germs which puts them directly into your lungs.
There are different types of pneumonia including walking pneumonia, also known as atypical pneumonia, which is caused by bacteria and pneumocystis jiroveci carinii. This is more common in people with a weakened immune system as well as double pneumonia, which occurs in both lungs and a rarer type of pneumonia called mycoplasma. Risk factors for pneumonia include having a chronic lung disease, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, being older than 65 or younger than 1, malnourished, taking medications for GERD, being exposed to pollutants, having a brain injury, stroke or brain disorder, poor immune system, diabetes mellitus, heart disease a recent trauma or recent surgery.
There are different signs and symptoms that point to pneumonia. The most common symptoms include fever, shaking and chills, a cough which often include yellow or green mucus and shortness of breath. Additional symptoms of pneumonia include excessive sweating, headache, fatigue, and confusion, loss of appetite, low energy levels, a sharp or stabbing chest pain, fast heartbeat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. To diagnose pneumonia, your doctor will perform a physical examination followed by a series of tests. Tests include a CT scan of the chest, complete blood count (CBC), arterial blood gases test, sputum culture and a pleural fluid culture.
Pneumonia can lead to serious complications, so you should get medical attention immediately if you show any signs or symptoms for this type of infection. Your doctor will determine whether or not hospitalization is required, which includes oxygen therapy, breathing treatments and antibiotics through an IV. If you have another serious medical condition, a very high fever, are older than 65 or younger than 1 or unable to eat or drink, you will probably be hospitalized.
Home treatment usually requires taking a prescribed antibiotic. You shouldnt try to treat pneumonia on your own before consulting your doctor. If your doctor says it is okay to return home, take your antibiotics, use a humidifier with warm water and place a warm and wet cloth over your mouth and nose. Drink plenty of fluids including water and juice and avoid alcohol. To prevent pneumonia, wash your hands regularly, avoid smoking cigarettes and get the pneumonia and flu vaccine. Complications of pneumonia without proper treatment include bacteria getting into your bloodstream, septic shock, lung abscess and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).