Patients with pneumonia have an infection in their air sacs in one or both lungs. As the air sacs may have fluid or pus, it causes coughing with phlegm. Many cases have fever, chills, and breathing difficulty.
What are the signs and symptoms of pneumonia?
The signs and symptoms of pneumonia can vary, such as:
Have chest pain when breathing or coughing
- Have a confusion or changes in mental awareness, especially in older patients
- Have a cough that may produce phlegm
- Experience fatigue
- Have fever, sweating, and shaking chills
- Have lower body temperature than normal, especially in older patients or those with the weak immune system
- Have nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
- Have shortness of breath
When to see a doctor:
Patients in the following groups who have breathing difficulty, chest pain, continual fever with a temperature of 37.5 Celsius or higher, or with a persistent cough should see doctors.
- Adults who are older than 65
- Children who are younger than age 2
- Those with an underlying health condition and weak immune system
- Those who are receiving chemotherapy or on medications that suppress their immune system
What are the causes of pneumonia?
Pneumonia occurs once the immune system is weak and allows some germs to enter and infect the lungs. Even if the health remains good, sometimes these germs can be very powerful to infect the immune system. There are four types of pneumonia, depending on the types of germs and where it infects, as follows:
- Community-acquired pneumonia, which is the most common and occurs outside of hospitals or healthcare facilities, and is caused by bacteria, bacteria-like organisms, fungi, the viruses, including Covid-19.
- Hospital-acquired pneumonia
- Health care-acquired pneumonia
- Aspiration pneumonia
What are the risk factors that develop pneumonia?
Risk factors that develop pneumonia include:
- Be hospitalized
- Have chronic disease
- Smoke cigarettes
- Have weakened or suppressed immune system
How do doctors diagnose pneumonia?
Doctors may start their diagnosis with a patient interview to get to know their medical history along with a physical exam, and maybe other exams, such as:
- Blood tests
- Chest X-ray
- Pulse oximetry
- Sputum test
In some cases, doctors may opt for the following exams for patients who are older 65 or have serious conditions:
- CT Scan
- Pleural fluid culture
How do doctors treat pneumonia?
Doctors usually opt for treatment that aims to cure the infection and to prevent complications. Treatment options can be:
- Use antibiotics
- Use cough medicine
- Use fever reducers/ pain relievers.
Preparation before meeting doctors:
Before meeting doctors, patients are advised to:
Prepare a list of symptoms that the patients are having.
- Prepare a list of medications that the patients have had or are having.
- Bring a family member or friend along to help remember questions to ask as well as what the doctors say.
- Prepare a list of questions that the patients may have for doctors.
What to expect from doctors:
Doctors usually ask a series of questions during the interview, such as:
- When did the patients first notice the symptoms?
- Have the symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- Have the patients been exposed to sick people at home, school, or work?
- Have the patients had some flu or pneumonia vaccines before?
What to do before meeting doctors:
Patients with pneumonia can do as follows to prevent more serious symptoms:
Stop smoking or exposing to cigarettes.
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Get plenty of rest