Pneumonia-Lung Disease : Tests & Treatment

Pneumonia is a respiratory condition in which there is inflammation of the lung, especially affecting the microscopic air sacs (alveoli).
Community-acquired pneumonia refers to pneumonia in people who have not recently been in the hospital or another health care facility (nursing home, rehabilitation facility).

Tests & Diagnostics

If you have pneumonia, you may be working hard to breathe, or breathing fast.
Crackles are heard when listening to your chest with a stethoscope. Other abnormal breathing sounds may also be heard through the stethoscope or via percussion (tapping on your chest wall).
The health care provider will likely order a chest x-ray if pneumonia is suspected.
Some patients may need other tests, including:

  1. CBC to check white blood cell count
  2. Arterial blood gases to see if enough oxygen is getting into your blood from the lungs
  3. CT scan of the chest
  4. Gram’s stain and culture of your sputum to look for the organism causing your symptoms
  5. Pleural fluid culture if there is fluid in the space surrounding the lungs

Treatments
(A) Your doctor will first decide whether you need to be hospitalised. If you are treated in the hospital, you will receive fluids and antibiotics in your veins,oxygen therapy, and possibly breathing treatments. It is very important that your antibiotics are started very soon after you are admitted.

You are more likely to be admitted to the hospital if you:

  1. Have another serious medical problem
  2. Have severe symptoms
  3. Are unable to care for yourself at home, or are unable to eat or drink
  4. Are older than 65 or a young child
  5. Have been taking antibiotics at home and are not getting better

(B) However, many people can be treated at home. If bacteria are causing the pneumonia, the doctor will try to cure the infection with antibiotics. It may be hard for your health care provider to know whether you have a viral or bacterial pneumonia, so you may receive antibiotics.
(C ) Patients with mild pneumonia who are otherwise healthy are sometimes treated with oral macrolide antibiotics (azithromycin, clarithromycin, or erythromycin).
(D) Patients with other serious illnesses, such as heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or emphysema, kidney disease, or diabetes are often given antibiotics.
(E) If the cause is a virus, typical antibiotics will NOT be effective.

Complications
Possible complications include:

  1. Respiratory failure, which requires a breathing machine or ventilator
  2. Empyema or lung abscesses. These are infrequent, but serious, complications of pneumonia. They occur when pockets of pus from inside or around the lung. These may sometimes need to be drained with surgery.
  3. Sepsis, a condition in which there is uncontrolled swelling (inflammation) in the body, which may lead to organ failure
  4. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a severe form of respiratory failure

Prevention
Wash your hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose, going to the bathroom, diapering, and before eating or preparing foods.

Don’t smoke. Tobacco damages your lung’s ability to ward off infection.
Vaccines may help prevent pneumonia in children, the elderly, and people with diabetes, asthma, emphysema, HIV, cancer, or other chronic conditions.

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