What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that causes the air sacs in one or both lungs to become inflamed. The air sacs can fill with pus or fluid which causes the persistent coughing that is often associated with pneumonia. Organisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses, can cause pneumonia. Pneumonia ranges in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. Infants, young children, individuals over the age of 65, and those with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk for developing serious cases.
What are the symptoms of pneumonia?
Pneumonia symptoms vary from mild to severe depending on the type of germ causing the infection and the overall health and age of the person infected. Common symptoms include:
- Chest pain when you breathe or cough
- Shortness of breath
- Fever, sweating and shaking chills
- Confusion or changes in mental awareness (usually in adults age 65 and older)
- Cough, which may produce phlegm
- Lower than normal body temperature (usually in adults older than age 65 and people with weak immune systems)
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
When to see a doctor for pneumonia
You should seek medical care if you or someone you’re with has difficulty breathing, persistent fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit, persistent cough, chest pain or coughing up mucus.
Pneumonia in Children
Pneumonia is most common in children under the age of 5 and often presents with similar symptoms as adults. It is usually caused by bacteria or viruses and can be spread through direct contact with someone who is infected. Common viruses that cause Pneumonia are:
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
- Mycoplasma pneumonia. This often causes a mild form of the illness called walking pneumonia.
- Streptococcus pneumoniae
- Group B streptococcus
- Influenza virus
- Parainfluenza virus
- Staphylococcus aureus
Newborns and infants might not present with any symptoms. They could also vomit, have a fever, or appear tired and restless with no energy. It’s also important to watch for signs of difficulty breathing and eating.
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