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See our Privacy Statement is brought to you by and is intended to provide basic information that you can use to make informed decisions about important health issues affecting you or your loved ones. We hope that you’ll find this information about Pneumonia helpful and that you’ll seek professional medical advice to address any specific symptoms you might have related to this matter.

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What is pneumonia?

What causes pneumonia?

How serious is pneumonia?

Who is at risk for getting pneumonia?

What are the symptoms of pneumonia?

How is pneumonia diagnosed?

How can I prevent pneumonia?

Who should get the pneumonia vaccine?

Where can I buy home test kits for contributing factors of this condition?

What is Pneumonia? (top)

Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae, which can infect the upper respiratory tracts of adults and children and can spread to the blood, lungs, middle ear, or nervous system.

What causes pneumonia? (top)

Bacteria are the most common causes of pneumonia, but these infections can also be caused by a variety of viruses or fungi.

How serious is pneumonia? (top)

About 1.2 million people are hospitalized each year for pneumonia; that's third after births and heart disease. Although many of pneumonias respond well to treatment, the infection can still be a very serious problem.

Who is at risk for getting pneumonia? (top)

Groups considered high risk for pneumonia are;

  • Older adults

  • Very young children

  • Pregnant Women

  • People with impaired immune systems or chronic lung disease

Some of the risk factors for pneumonia are;

  • Dormitory or Barrack Conditions: Recruits on military bases and college students are at higher than average risk for Mycoplasma pneumonia , which is usually mild. These groups are at lower risk, however, for more serious types of pneumonia.

  • Smoke and Environmental Pollutants. The risk for pneumonia in smokers of more than a pack a day is three times that of nonsmokers. Those who are chronically exposed to cigarette smoke, which can injure airways and damage the cilia, are also at risk. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of dying from pneumonia to normal, but the full benefit takes ten years to be realized. Toxic fumes, industrial smoke, and other air pollutants may also damage cilia function.

  • Drugs and Alcohol. Alcohol or drug abuse is strongly associated with pneumonia. These substances act as sedatives and can diminish the reflexes that trigger coughing and sneezing. Alcohol also interferes with the actions of the white blood cells that destroy bacteria and other microbes. Intravenous drug abusers are at risk for pneumonia from infections that originate at the injection site and spread through the blood stream.

What are the symptoms of pneumonia? (top)

The symptoms of pneumonia develop abruptly and may include

  • chest pain

  • fever, shaking or chills

  • shortness of breath and/or rapid breathing and heart beat.

Symptoms of pneumonia indicating a medical emergency include

  • high fever

  • a rapid heart rate

  • low blood pressure

  • bluish-skin

  • mental confusion

  • coughing up sputum containing pus or blood is also an indication of serious infection.

Severe abdominal pain may accompany pneumonia occurring in the lower lobes of the lung.

In advanced cases, skin may become bluish (cyanotic), breathing may become labored and heavy, and the patient may become confused.

Symptoms in the Elderly; It is important to note that older people may have fewer or different symptoms than younger people have. An elderly person who experiences even a minor cough and weakness for more than a day should seek medical help. Some may exhibit confusion, lethargy, and general deterioration.

How is pneumonia diagnosed? (top)

In many cases of mild-to-moderate community-acquired pneumonia, the physician is able to diagnose and treat pneumonia based solely on a history and physical examination. Often, however, a diagnosis is not straightforward, particularly in hospitalized patients.

  • Symptoms

  • Physical examination

  • Laboratory tests

  • Chest x-ray

  • Medical and personal history

How can I prevent pneumonia? (top)

There is a vaccine to protect adults against pneumococcal disease. The vaccine is safe and effective. A single dose of the pneumonia vaccine protects against the 23 different types of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria that are responsible for causing greater than 90% of all pneumonia disease cases.

Who should get the pneumonia vaccine? (top)

  • People who are 65 years of age or older

  • People two years of age or older who have a chronic illness such as cardiovascular or pulmonary (lung) diseases, sickle cell disease, chronic liver diseases, diabetes, alcoholism, or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks.

  • People with a weakened immune system due to illnesses such as HIV infection, AIDS, chronic renal failure, organ transplantation, Hodgkin’s disease, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and those who have had their spleen removed or whose spleen is dysfunctional due to an illness such as sickle cell disease.

  • People in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities and certain Native American or Alaska Native populations

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contributing factors of this condition





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