Doc, do I have pneumonia?

Mr. John, a 67-year-old man is in clinic today because he has been having a “bad cold” for 14 days now. He thought he was winning the cold when his fever resolved after three days; however the fever reoccurred four days ago. In addition, he now feels winded, tired and coughs out discolored sputum.

‘’I think you have pneumonia’’, Dr. Chu told John after listening to his story and examining him.

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lung caused by infection. This makes the usually air-filled collapsible lung to become wet and non-collapsible, leading to signs and symptoms of pneumonia.

What causes pneumonia?

Pneumonia is commonly caused by bacteria germs, and sometimes by virus germs. Most often, one gets these germs from direct contact with contaminated hands/objects or inhaling infected droplet in air coughed/sneezed out by an infected person.

Who gets pneumonia?

Pneumonia affects all age groups. However, it is more common in seniors and young children. Others are people with; exposure to tobacco smoke, pre-existing lung diseases, chronic health conditions, low immunity, nursing homes residents, and those with non-updated flu or pneumonia vaccines.

What are common symptoms of pneumonia?

People with pneumonia often have cough, fever and/or chills, difficulty breathing, chest pain, tiredness and poor appetite. It is possible to have pneumonia without a cough or fever especially in seniors. Often, pneumonia follows a Common cold/flu which is the reason why it is common during the flu season.

How is pneumonia treated?

Treatment is usually with appropriate antibiotics. Anti-viral medication is included if influenza/flu virus is suspected as possible cause.

Those having trouble breathing and with low oxygen receive medical oxygen. Nebulization is done to open up lungs for easy air passage. Intravenous fluid/drip and fever medication are given for dehydration and fever.

What can I do?

For faster recovery, you need to take your medication as recommended, drink plenty fluid, get some rest, avoid tobacco smoke, effectively treat your other health conditions and avoid things that aggravate/worsen your symptoms.

Is reasonable to return to your doctor if you develop new concerning symptoms or noticed no significant improvement after 2-3 complete days of treatment.

To prevent pneumonia, you should avoid exposure to tobacco smoke, receive flu shot yearly, update your pneumonia vaccine/shot, avoid exposure to germs (face mask, hand washing, etc), treat your other health conditions effectively, and live a healthy lifestyle.

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