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Although pneumonia is a common respiratory infection, it can lead to complications and needs prompt medical attention. 

At Kimball Health Services, our experienced healthcare providers are skilled at recognizing the signs and symptoms of pneumonia. We use comprehensive physical examinations and imaging tests to ensure a swift and accurate diagnosis and start timely treatment.

Pneumonia treatment is not one-size-fits-all. We create personalized treatment plans that consider the type and severity of your pneumonia, your overall health, and any underlying conditions you may have. 

Throughout your pneumonia treatment, we closely monitor your progress and keep an eye out for any signs of complications or resistance to treatment. Adjustments are made as needed to ensure your recovery remains on track.

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a respiratory infection where the tiny air sacs in the lungs, known as alveoli, become inflamed and filled with fluid or pus. This happens due to an invasion by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or other microorganisms. 

What makes pneumonia concerning is that it impacts your lungs. The inflammation and fluid retention caused by this condition makes breathing difficult. It is typically accompanied by symptoms like a persistent cough, fever, and chills. 

The risk is amplified in vulnerable groups, such as children and older adults. If not addressed promptly, pneumonia can lead to severe complications and can be potentially life-threatening in severe cases.

Types of Pneumonia

Types of pneumonia are categorized based on how you contract the condition. Different kinds of pneumonia may have different levels of severity and treatments. 

Here are the four types of pneumonia based on their causes:

Bacterial Pneumonia

This type of pneumonia occurs from a bacterial infection and typically arises when the body is weak due to illness, poor nutrition, old age, or compromised immunity. Streptococcus pneumonia is the most common bacteria associated with this form of pneumonia. 

Viral Pneumonia

Caused by various viruses, including the flu (influenza), viral pneumonia contributes to around one-third of all pneumonia cases. If you contract viral pneumonia, there is an increased likelihood of developing bacterial pneumonia.

Mycoplasma Pneumonia

Mycoplasma pneumonia showcases somewhat different signs and symptoms. Also known as atypical pneumonia, it is caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae. It induces a mild yet widespread pneumonia affecting individuals of all age groups.

Other Pneumonia

This includes less common pneumonia caused by various infections, including fungi. 

Understanding these diverse types of conditions is crucial for effective management and tailored treatment approaches.

Symptoms of Pneumonia

The symptoms of pneumonia may vary depending on the specific type with which you're dealing. Some common symptoms of pneumonia include:

  • Coughing (with or without mucus)
  • Fever
  • Sweating or chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain while breathing or coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headaches

The severity of your symptoms can vary, ranging from mild to severe, based on factors such as age, the infecting pathogen, overall health and the origin of your pneumonia. If your symptoms are severe, please visit our facility to seek immediate medical attention. 

Pneumonia in Children and Seniors

Pneumonia symptoms can be more severe if you have significant health concerns since they would make you more vulnerable to life-threatening complications. 

In babies, typical pneumonia symptoms may not occur as usual, so it is crucial to identify signs of pneumonia as early as possible. Signs of pneumonia in babies can include:

  • Vomiting and fever
  • Blue skin and lips
  • Grunting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Widening of the nostrils with each breath 

Similarly, for patients over 65, the standard symptoms of pneumonia might not occur. You might experience a lower-than-normal temperature in place of a fever. Additional symptoms may include:

  • Weakness or sudden confusion
  • Sudden change in mental state
  • Low appetite
  • Fatigue 
  • Worsening of existing health conditions

Causes of Pneumonia

A viral or bacterial infection commonly causes pneumonia. Some of the most common bacteria and viruses that may cause pneumonia include:

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Mycoplasma pneumonia
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  • Influenza virus
  • Adenovirus

While pneumonia is not contagious, the bacteria and viruses responsible for causing it can spread through person-to-person contact by touching infected surfaces or coughing and sneezing. 

Diagnostic Tests for Pneumonia

A comprehensive diagnosis of pneumonia involves a thorough examination of your medical history, physical condition, and symptoms. Pneumonia symptoms often overlap with cold or flu symptoms, which makes identifying pneumonia challenging.

Diagnostic tests to confirm pneumonia include: 

  • Blood Tests - A blood test confirms the presence of infection and helps identify the type of infection causing pneumonia.
  • Chest X-ray - It provides images of the lungs that can reveal signs of inflammation and the extent of infection.
  • Pulse Oximetry - This measures your blood oxygen levels to identify pneumonia-related oxygen insufficiency. 

In severe cases, the following additional tests may be conducted:

  • Sputum Test - This involves analyzing a deep cough-induced sample of lung fluid (sputum) to pinpoint the infection's cause.
  • Bronchoscopy - When standard treatments are ineffective for a more precise diagnosis, a bronchoscope may be used to inspect the inside of your lungs visually. 
  • CT Scan - A CT scan can reveal your lung condition and any complications in more detail than X-rays.
  • Pleural Fluid Culture - This test involves analyzing fluid between the lungs and chest wall to identify the causative agent and the extent of infection spread.

Treatment Options for Pneumonia

Treatment options for pneumonia vary depending on the cause and severity of your condition. Your treatment options may include:

  • Antibiotic medication
  • Antifungal medication
  • Antiviral medication
  • Oxygen therapy
  • IV fluids

Viral vs. Bacterial Pneumonia

Bacterial pneumonia is more common and severe than viral pneumonia. It’s more likely to require a hospital stay because the fever can sometimes rise as high as 105°F. 

Viral pneumonia, on the other hand, is milder and typically causes flu-like symptoms.

Managing Pneumonia

At-home care tips that can help you manage mild pneumonia symptoms include:

  • Get lots of rest
  • Stay hydrated
  • Use room humidifiers
  • Consider over-the-counter medication for pain and fever 
  • Use cough syrup

Treatment for Pneumonia in Kimball

If you or your loved one is experiencing symptoms of pneumonia, don't delay seeking help. At Kimball Health Services, our primary care providers can guide you through comprehensive diagnosis and personalized treatment plans for pneumonia. 

In case of an emergency, call 911 or walk into our emergency department anytime. For appointments, call ahead or fill out our online form. We're here for you whenever you need us. 

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