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How Do You Get Pneumonia

Pneumonia can be caused due to bacteria, virus as well as fungi. Presented below are the causes, symptoms and treatment of pneumonia.
Pneumonia is one of the most common respiratory disorders experienced by people. Although this condition is commonly found in older people, the condition is not limited to them. As the symptoms of pneumonia and bronchitis are more or less the same, the two conditions are often confused with each other. It should be noted that pneumonia is a disease caused due to inflammation of the lung parenchyma (except the bronchi) by bacteria, virus or fungi. On the contrary, bronchitis is a condition caused due to inflammation of the bronchi or the lungs. Pneumonia can be mild to severe to life-threatening.

What Causes Pneumonia

People having a weak immune system are more prone to contracting pneumonia. It is a highly contagious disease and spread from one person to the other. This type of contraction is known as acquired pneumonia. Bacterial infection (caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae) is the most common cause of pneumonia. However, as mentioned above, it can also be caused due to virus and fungi.
  • Bacteria
    • Staphylococcus aureus
    • Mycoplasma pneumoniae
    • Chlamydia pneumoniae
    • Streptococcus pyogenes
    • Haemophilus influenzae
    • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
    • Mycobacterium avium
    • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Virus
    • Influenza
    • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
    • Adenoviruses
    • Herpes viruses
    • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
    • Avian influenza
  • Fungi
    • Pneumocystis carinii, (or P. jiroveci)
Pneumonia can even be hospital-acquired and found in people who have been on the ventilator for a long time. Secondly, entering of food particles in the lungs while vomiting is also one of the causes of pneumonia in people. Lastly, it should be noted that bacteria and viruses are the common causes; where fungal infection is a rare cause of this disease.

What are the Symptoms of Pneumonia

The signs and symptoms of pneumonia are similar to those of other respiratory disorders; but, are more severe. In the initial days, the symptoms of pneumonia appear similar to those of common cold or flu. The following are the symptoms which you should look out for:
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Faster heart rate
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
One of the identifying features of pneumonia is that the symptoms appear very quickly and are also severer than those of common cold and flu. Therefore, if you suffer from any of the above mentioned symptoms, or the symptoms that do not go even after taking treatment, then you should consult the doctor immediately.

How is Pneumonia Treated

If it is caused by bacteria, the doctor will prescribe anti bacterial medication to treat it. It is essential to take the complete course of antibiotics in order to get relief from the condition. On the other hand, pneumonia caused due to viral infection cannot be treated by antibiotics as they prove ineffective against viruses. Therefore, people suffering from viral pneumonia may be advised to take complete rest and drink plenty of fluids. Viral infections subside themselves after a specific period. Thirdly, pneumonia caused due to fungus can be treated with antifungal medications. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required to treat pneumonia. If difficulty in breathing is observed, an oxygen mask may be put on the patient.

Pneumonia was one of the leading causes of death in the earlier times, however, nowadays it can be treated completely. But, one should take precautionary measures to prevent it as frequent bouts of pneumonia can lead to long-term complications like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Take care!
By Madhura Pandit
Published: 3/23/2011
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