Pneumonia is an inflammatory lung infection that causes high fevers, coughing, and shortness of breath. It’s a fairly common condition, but it can also be extremely serious; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one million Americans are hospitalized for pneumonia each year. And of those, the condition proves fatal for approximately 50,000.
It’s important to note that not all pneumonia infections are the same. While some cases of pneumonia require medical intervention, others may go away on their own. Understanding the different causes of pneumonia and how each is most effectively treated will go a long way toward preventing complications and facilitating recovery.
Different types of pneumonia
There are three main types of pneumonia:
Bacterial pneumonia can develop on its own or can follow a bout with a cold or flu. While it can strike anyone, at any age, the people at the highest risk of developing bacterial pneumonia are those with weakened immune systems, such as people recovering from surgery or another illness. The most common type of bacterial pneumonia is pneumococcal pneumonia, caused by Streptococcus bacteria.
When a respiratory virus attacks the lungs, this can develop into viral pneumonia. Many cases of viral pneumonia are not serious, but complications can occur when bacteria invade the lungs, compounding the infection. It’s most severe in patients with pre-existing heart or lung conditions.
Also known as “atypical pneumonia” or “walking pneumonia,” this is the mildest form of the condition. Many people don’t even know they have it, but in some cases, it can be severe and extremely long lasting. Walking pneumonia can affect all age groups, but older adults are the most at-risk of experiencing complications.
Other pneumonia causes include fungus or chemical inhalation, but those are more rare.
Pneumonia treatment options
Treatment for pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia you’re suffering from, the symptoms you’re experiencing, and any other co-occurring medical conditions you may have. If your case of pneumonia is mild, you may be able to manage your symptoms with at-home treatment. Staying hydrated, getting plenty of rest, and controlling discomfort with acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin, can help you feel better while your body works to clear the infection.
However, if you believe you have pneumonia, you should always see your doctor. Even people with mild cases of pneumonia may need a prescription for antibiotics to fully recover. A doctor can run the appropriate diagnostics to determine whether you need special medication and give you advice on how best to treat your condition.
Complications of pneumonia
Some people, such as older adults or those with compromised immune systems, are at a higher risk of developing complications from pneumonia. Potential complications of pneumonia include:
Respiratory failure, including acute respiratory distress syndrome
Sepsis, a widespread inflammatory condition that can lead to organ failure
Lung abscesses, which occasionally require surgery
Pleural effusion, in which fluid accumulates around the lungs
At-risk patients can reduce the chances of developing complications by treating their pneumonia as early as possible and convalescing in a restful and relaxing environment.
Bella Vista Health Center offers pneumonia treatment in San Diego
At Bella Vista Health Center in San Diego, we can provide you with the support you need to fully focus on your pneumonia recovery. Our pneumonia treatment program includes respiratory therapy and medication management to ease coughs, reduce pain, and make it easier for you to breathe again. By allowing our caring, competent staff to prepare your meals and monitor your progress, you can spend your time resting and allowing your body the time it needs to heal.
For more information on the pneumonia treatment options available at Bella Vista Health Center, call us at (619) 399-7920.