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Pneumonia

In most cases, pneumonia is noticed after an upper respiratory illness. When there is infection in the lung tissue, pneumonia occurs. This disease can be caused by either virus, bacteria, fungi or parasites. Pneumonia caused by virus appears gradually and may not be as severe as when caused by bacteria. The streptococcus bacteria, known as pneumococcus, is the main cause of pneumonia. adenoviruses, rhinovirus, influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and para-influenza virus are among the viruses that can cause pneumonia. Weak and elderly people are more at risk for contracting pneumonia. Persons with weakened immune systems or have had their spleen removed are more susceptible for pneumonia.


The disease is contagious and spreads through touching used handkerchiefs and sharing utensils. Symptoms of pneumonia include fever, cough and chest pain. There is labored breathing and abdominal pain. Wheezing is noticed in cases of viral pneumonia. A patient suffering from pneumonia may develop bluish or grayish pallor on the lips and fingertips. A case of bacterial pneumonia can take about a fortnight to recover while viral pneumonia takes longer. Pneumonia can be mild or life threatening.


Pneumonia is detected during a physical examination. Chest Xray and CT scan can help confirm the presence of pneumonia and throw light on the extent and location of the infection. Blood tests and phlegm sample can detect presence of virus or bacteria. Bronchoscopy allows a doctor to examine the patient's breathing passages. Antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin and clavulanic acid are prescribed to treat pneumonia. Macrolide antibiotics such as erythromycin, azithromycin and clarithromycin are prescribed to those suffering from pneumonia. Vaccines against Haemophilus influenzae and pertussis are part of the routine immunization schedule for children.

Aspiration Pneumonia

Aspiration pneumonia occurs when gastric contents, vomit or food distillate into the lungs and cause inflammation of the lungs and bronchial tubes. The aspirated material is responsible for introducing bacteria that is not normally found in the lungs. Pus forms as a result of this infection. The infection can then spread to the blood and other areas of the body. It can bring on shock and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Sometimes it can cause pus to collect in the lungs. The severity of aspiration pneumonia depends on the volume and acidity of the aspirated contents. The effects of aspiration pneumonia can range from mechanical obstruction of airways to acute respiratory distress. Older persons or persons with altered mental status are more likely to face this emergency situation. Aspiration pneumonia is also a coincident risk of head trauma, acute stroke or metabolic derangement. Elderly hospitalized patients and those suffering from neurological diseases or gastroesophageal reflux are at increased risk of aspiration pneumonia.


Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia are fever and cough with foul-smelling or blood-stained mucus. Patients experience shortness of breath and chest pain. Increased heart rate and wheezing is also noticed. Aspiration pneumonia can be fatal if not attended to in time. Hospitalization may be required for management of the illness. Treatment measures vary depending on the severity of the pneumonia. Chest x-ray, blood culture and sputum culture can aid diagnosis and treatment. Swallowing studies are conducted on the patient to assess the swallowing function. Intravenous antibiotic medications are used to treat aspiration pneumonia. Articial breathing apparatus is used to aid the patient and keep the airways open. Oxygen therapy is also resorted to.


Legionnaire's Disease

Legionnaire's Disease acquired it's name when a pneumonia outbreak was noticed at a convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia. The bacteria causing the disease is Legionella pneumophila. In its milder form, the disease manifests as Pontiac fever. Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia. It is also referred to as Legionellosis. In many cases, this infection is picked up when inhaling mist from contaminated sources such as cooling towers, air conditioned systems and whirlpool baths.


Symptoms of Legionnaire's Disease include high fever, chills and cough. There is muscle ache and headache. Flu-like symptoms are noticed. Nausea and vomiting as well as shaking chills are common symptoms of Legionnaire's Disease. Dry cough also sets in. It is more commonly seen in middle-aged persons and smokers. People with lowered immune resistance or suffering from diabetes, chronic kidney disease or cancer are more at risk for developing Legionnaire's Disease.


Treatment for Legionnaire's Disease involves antibiotics such as erythromycin and rifampin. Preventive measures include appropriate maintenance and cleaning of air conditioning and water handling systems. Build-up of algae and scales must be removed.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: July 22, 2019