Common respiratory conditions: What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is characterized by inflammation of the tissues in one or both lungs. It is generally brought about by a bacterial infection.

If an individual develops pneumonia, the tiny air sacs in the lungs become inflamed and filled with fluid.

What are the indications?

The indications of pneumonia arise abruptly over a span of 24-48 hours or might develop steadily over several days.

The usual indications of pneumonia include:

  • Cough – this might be dry or produce greenish, yellowish, brown or blood-streaked mucus
  • Difficulty breathing – the breathing might be fast and shallow and the individual might feel short of breath even while resting
    pneumonia

    The breathing might be fast and shallow and the individual might feel short of breath even while resting.

  • Fever
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Appetite loss
  • Feeling of being generally sick
  • Chest pain
  • Sweating and shivering

Management of pneumonia

A mild case of pneumonia can be managed at home with the following:

  • Adequate rest
  • Increased intake of fluids
  • Antibiotics

If the individual does not have other pre-existing health conditions, he/she should respond to treatment and eventually recovery but the cough might persist for some time.

Since pneumonia is not typically spread from one individual to another, it is relatively safe to be around others, even family members. Nevertheless, individuals who have a compromised immune system must avoid close exposure to an individual with the infection until he/she starts to recover.

For high-risk groups, pneumonia can be severe and might require care in a healthcare facility. Remember that this respiratory condition can lead to the development of serious complications where some can be deadly depending on the age and health.

Prevention

Even though most cases of pneumonia are bacterial in nature and does not spread from one individual to another, ensuring proper hygiene can help in preventing the spread of the germs such as:

  • Covering the nose and mouth using tissue or a handkerchief while sneezing or coughing
  • Discard any soiled tissues right away
  • Thoroughly wash hands regularly to prevent the transfer of germs to other individuals or objects and surfaces

Additionally, a healthy lifestyle can also help in preventing pneumonia such as avoidance or cessation of smoking since it damages the lungs and increases the risk for infection.

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