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Pneumonia is an infection of the lower respiratory system

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection of the lower respiratory system that is located in one or more lung lobes in one or both lungs. The germs multiply and infect the lung parenchyma and cause symptoms such as fever, chills, shortness of breath and expectoration.


Pneumonia is divided into typical and atypical depending on the causative factor and the clinical-laboratory picture.

It is also divided into community-acquired pneumonia and hospital-acquired pneumonia.

This separation also affects the way each case of pneumonia is treated due to the different microbial population of the community and the nursing structures, as well as their resilience. The disease can range from milder to very serious and life-threatening.

The groups most at risk of complications are newborns, young children, the elderly over 65 and people with weak immune systems and chronic diseases.




What are the causes and symptoms of pneumonia

Pneumonia is usually caused by bacteria, viruses or, less commonly, fungi. Depending on the microbes that cause it and based on the place where the patient is infected, it is divided into community-acquired pneumonia and hospital-acquired infection.

Community-acquired pneumonia is the most common form of pneumonia. It occurs outside the hospital and may be due to:

  • Germs (staphylococcus, streptococcus, pneumococcus, mycoplasma, Haemophilus influenzae)

  • Viruses (measles, chicken pox, shingles and other childhood diseases)

  • Influenza virus

  • Fungi (very rare)

Nosocomial pneumonia is an infection that occurs during hospitalization or in the first 24 hours after a patient is discharged. Because of their weak immune systems, patients are vulnerable to germs present in hospitals. Hospital-acquired pneumonia can be more severe because the bacteria that develop are usually multi-resistant to antibiotics, making it difficult to clear them from the body. People who are on mechanical respiratory support and people with chronic hospitalization are at even higher risk.


Diagnosis of pneumonia

The diagnosis of pneumonia is made by the pulmonologist and confirmed by imaging (x-ray, chest x-ray) and laboratory tests (CRP, white blood cells, sedimentation). A clinical examination and hearing test is required. If there is a clinical suspicion of pneumonia, a CT or X-ray will need to be done. Also, in some cases, it will be necessary to take a pharyngeal swab to isolate and control the microbe responsible.




Treatment and management of pneumonia

The treatment of pneumonia depends on the responsible cause. Antibiotic treatment is usually given. If it is a mild form of pneumonia, even a 3-day regimen may be sufficient. In cases of tuberculosis, the antibiotic is given for 9 months. When the germs are resistant, multi-month antibiotic treatment is required. In the case of the legionella microbe (from the air conditioners), the treatment given lasts 20 days.

In general, the treatment includes antibiotic treatment when it is a germ and lasts about 7-15 days. The doctor takes into account the clinical picture of the patient, his medical history and the hematological and radiographic developments of the course of the disease, in order to determine the duration of the treatment. The monitoring of inflammation markers plays a very important role.

In cases where a virus is responsible for pneumonia, there is no specific treatment, which is why complications are more frequent and it is recommended that those belonging to high-risk groups be vaccinated. Tamiflu is usually taken and the patient is advised to rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat a healthy, light and vitamin-rich diet for a few days. The patient's body needs time to fight the virus on its own.

If the patient feels pain or has a fever, it is recommended to take antipyretic and analgesic drugs. If there is a productive cough, expectorant syrup is recommended.

If the sick patient belongs to a vulnerable group, the doctor is likely to recommend hospitalization to prevent the risk of complications.

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