Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs, which is accompanied by both mild and serious symptoms. Do I have pneumonia? This is a question that has been disturbing many people at various points of their lives. Some of the symptoms associated with this infection, and which you may use to tell whether you are suffering from pneumonia, include fever, difficulty in breathing and coughing. In healthy people, this condition is easy to treat at home and should clear in two to three weeks. However, the symptoms of pneumonia can be severe in children and aged people, hence requiring urgent medical attention by a qualified doctor.
The infection occurs when one inhales the causal germs. However, there are certain conditions that may predispose someone to this infection, such as flu and cold. Such conditions weaken immunity of the lungs, making it easier for the patient to contract pneumonia. Additionally, long-term disorders, such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes and cancer may also predispose the body to pneumonia.
Do I Have Pneumonia?
How do you know if you have pneumonia? This is a rather dissimulate question to answer for people suffering from COPD. In such patients, any problem with the respiratory system may be attributed to various conditions, including a cold, pneumonia, flu or a respiratory infection, such as acute bronchitis. Normally, acute bronchitis results in the inflammation of the bronchial tubes and is caused by an infection. While your doctor may not tell what exactly caused acute bronchitis, it has been established that taking antibiotics clears the problem within a short period. Pneumonia, on the other hand, does not respond to such treatment options. Though a bit shallow, this may be used as a distinguishing factor between acute bronchitis and pneumonia, especially in COPD patients. If this is not helping, with regards to how do I know if I have pneumonia, you may also use the following symptoms to differentiate pneumonia from other infections of the respiratory system:
Coughing that leads to the production of yellow or greenish mucus or even mucus that has blood stains
Mild to high fever
Shortness of breath after a slightly strenuous activity like climbing the stairs
Clammy skin, coupled with excessive sweating
Stabbing or sharp chest pain that worsens when you cough or breathe deeply
Fatigue and loss of appetite
Confusion in the elderly
However, symptoms of this infection will vary depending on the causal agent, whether it is viral or bacterial. If the infection is viral, the initial symptoms will be similar to influenza symptoms, including a dry cough, muscle pain, headache, fever and weakness. Within 12 to 36 hours, the patient will experience increasing breathlessness and the cough will worsen. Bacterial pneumonia, on the other hand, will lead to a fever of about 105 degrees Fahrenheit, the pulse and breathing rate will increase rapidly and the nail beds as well as the lips may change to bluish color. This is due to lack of enough oxygen in the blood. Additionally, bacterial pneumonia may make the patient delirious or confused.
How Do I Know If I Have Pneumonia?
Do I have pneumonia? Having one or multiple of the symptoms mentioned above is not a conclusive indicator that you are suffering from pneumonia. Rather than rushing to self medicate yourself, it is advisable to visit a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Mentioned below are some of the diagnostic tests that may be carried out by your doctor to ascertain whether you have this infection.
Physical exam: Using a stethoscope, the physician will listen to your lungs. If you are suffering from pneumonia, the lungs will produce a bubbling, crackling and/or rumbling sounds as you breathe in. Additionally, you may also produce a wheezing sound while breathing.
CBC blood test: This test is carried out to determine the number of white blood cells in the blood.
Chest x-ray: If the doctor suspects that you are suffering from pneumonia, he or she may order for a chest x-ray to ascertain the suspicion.
CAT scan of the lungs is conducted to see whether the lungs are functioning normally.
Arterial blood test to determine the level of oxygen in the blood.
Bronchoscopy: If you have been hospitalized and antibiotics are not improving the condition, this test will be carried out to view how the airways in the lungs are working
Pleural fluid culture test: This will be conducted if there is a fluid in the space surrounding the lung tissue.
Sputum tests to ascertain the causal agent.
Pulse oximetry is to examine the flow of oxygen through the circulation system.
How Is Pneumonia Treated?
The treatment option used for pneumonia mainly depends on the causal agent and the severity of the symptoms. If the condition is not serious, the following remedies may be applied at home:
Drinking a lot of fluids will help bring up phlegm and loosen the secretions.
Controlling the fever with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or aspirin. However, aspirin should not be administered to children.
You should also avoid taking cough syrups.
If the symptoms are severe, which is the case for children and old people, the antibiotics and fluids will be introduced into the body through the veins. If you happen to be hospitalized because of pneumonia, breathing treatments as well as oxygen therapy will be administered.
If it has been ascertained that the causal agent is a virus, normal antibiotics may work. However, the doctor may prescribe antiviral medication. If the pneumonia is bacterial, macrolide antibiotics will be used if the condition is mild. However, if the patient is suffering from other serious conditions, such as chronic emphysema, heart disease or diabetes, a higher dose of antibiotics will be prescribed. Additionally, the doctor may prescribe medication to ease chest pain and offer relief from the violent cough.