Pneumonia: Symptoms, Causes, And Effective Treatments
Pneumonia starts when a virus, fungus, or bacterium get into one of your lungs. (If it’s in both lungs, it’s called double pneumonia.) It causes the tiny sacs inside to get inflamed and fill with fluid or pus. If you’re healthy and get treated right away, it usually isn’t serious. But it can be dangerous for seniors, young kids, and people who have other health problems or weak immune systems.
Pnemonia: How It Happens
Most of the time, your body filters germs from the air to protect your lungs. Coughing also helps keep them out. If they do get in, your immune system usually fights them off before they make you sick. But if the germ is really strong or your body can’t do its part, your lungs can get infected. When your immune system sends cells to attack the germs, your lungs get inflamed, and that leads to pneumonia.
You may have a high fever, chills, shortness of breath, and chest pain when you breathe. You’ll also probably have a deep cough that doesn’t go away and brings up a thick liquid called phlegm. If you’re able to go about your daily business with these symptoms, you might have “walking pneumonia,” which is often caused by a certain kind of bacteria called Mycoplasma pneumoniae. But if your symptoms are worse than that, you should see your doctor, immediately.
Pneumonia: Bacteria Causes
Some of these tiny organisms are a natural and healthy part of your body, like in your gut, where they help you digest food. Others can make you sick. Most cases of pneumonia in U.S. adults are caused by bacteria. Antibiotics can kill them and help you get better.
Pneumonia: Legionnaires’ Disease
Yes, this is a form of pneumonia. This less common form is caused by Legionella bacteria. You may have a headache, muscle pain, chills, and very high fever. You may also cough up blood and have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It spreads through water and can get in things like air conditioners, hot tubs, and mist sprayers in grocery stores. It’s also treated with antibiotics.
Pneumonia: Virus Causes
The flu virus is the most common cause of viral pneumonia in adults, but any virus that infects your mouth, nose, throat, or lungs can lead to it. The symptoms are usually milder than with bacterial pneumonia, and your body can typically fight it off in 1 to 3 weeks.
Pneumonia: Fungi Causes
Some of these are useful: Mushrooms are a kind of fungus, and mold is what makes blue cheese blue. But some can cause pneumonia. Antifungal drugs are usually used to treat it, but people who take drugs that make their immune systems weak, like some cancer drugs, can get a kind called pneumocystis pneumonia. It’s more serious and can be hard to get rid of.
You may not know you have pneumonia. It can seem a lot like a cold or the flu, until it doesn’t go away. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and when they started, and he’ll listen to your lungs for crackling or wheezing. He may want a chest X-ray to get an image your lungs. It can tell for sure if you have pneumonia, but it won’t show what’s causing it.