Pneumonia is one of the most widespread chest and lung diseases. This article, thus, will fully broach this disease or what’s known as “acute pneumonia” and touch on its causes and diagnoses. Especially that pneumonia affects children, the elderly, and hospitalized patients too.
Pneumonia is the result of a bacterial or viral infection in the large airways that take air to and from the lungs. The occurrence of infection usually stems from irritation of the lung tissue or the alveoli being filled with fluid. This can sometimes be so detrimental for a lot of patients especially those with a weak immune system or with a chronic condition like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The symptoms of pneumonia can easily be mistaken for cold and flu, but it could, at times, be the result of a critical ailment.
The seriousness of the condition relies on a number of different factors like age, general health, or whether the infection is bacterial, viral, or fungal. Visiting the doctor is nobody’s favorite thing to do, yet some cases really do need paying the doctor a visit.
To sum all this up, early diagnosis is always the key to effective treatment and healing in general.
Keep on reading to find out about 7 symptoms that should never be ignored.
Coughing and sputum are the most prevalent symptoms of pneumonia. Coughing is always a result of an irritation of the airways. Shortness of breath, however, means that something’s up with the functionality of the lungs.
The cough can either be non-productive (dry) or it can be filled with sputum that also might appear clear, yellowish, greenish, or with a blood tinge. The changes in the mucus color stem from infection, bacterial overgrowth, and the overall inflammatory response of our bodies. Thus, coughing and mucus restrict the flow of air in the pulmonary alveoli as the bronchi get narrowed and blocked.
The reason we generally cough is to rid our lungs and bronchial tubes of mucus. Most relentless coughs might take up to three weeks to clear away. Therefore, experiencing a persistent cough or shortness of breath should be quite enough to get you to medical practice.
Some cases might need to include a blood test to uncover any immune disorders, like abnormal white blood cell production that often accompanies a sore throat. Moreover, muscular or nervous issues might cause inflammations at the level of the vocal cords.
If any of these signs are noticed, visiting the doctor, is highly imperative.
2- Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath is another sign that we can perceive in pneumonia sufferers. It is the sensation of being unable to fully breathe. The breath is fast and out of rhythm, it feels like one is constantly out of air. So the patient will feel that breathing deeply and rhythmically is impossible and will resort to an excessive expansion of the chest during inhalation and exhalation.
Moreover, a wheezing sound might also be noticed in such patients. The wheezing sound is the result of a partial restriction of the airways, anywhere from the throat down to the lungs. This sound is heard much quickly during exhalation, and it might differ in strength and duration among patients and be affected by several other factors like age and daily practices.
Shortness of breath is a good enough reason to immediately seek medical help.
Inquiries about your medical history will be made and might be followed by a series of clinical, laboratory, and radiological examinations. These might include:
- Chest X-ray.
2. A computed tomography (CT or CAT) for examinations of the heart, blood vessels, and lungs
3. Exercise test. ( To observe heart function under stress )
4. Lung function tests
5. Lab tests including a blood test. ( To measure blood enzymes )
3. Thoracic Pain
Thoracic Pain is a symptom that should also be a cause for concern. And pneumonia is one of the many causes of Thoracic Pain.
This symptom comes as a discomforting sensation anywhere from the neck to the upper parts of the abdomen. It is known to be more severe when attempting to breathe deeply, coughing, or laughing. The pain travels to other areas like the back making it worse for the whole torso.
When experiencing chest or heart pain seeking medical help is very important. It is even more critical for people who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, smokers, and those over 50 years old.
The medical term for a fast or palpitating heart is “tachycardia”. It is felt as a throbbing sensation in the chest, neck, or throat that gets worse during sleep, when eating, or throughout the whole day.
Heartbeats that exceed 100 per second in adults, pump the blood at a lower volume, causing a slower flow of blood in the body. As a result, the heart has a lesser supply of oxygen which, in turn, contributes to shortness of breath and chest pain.
Treating tachycardia requires getting a doctor’s check to reveal the cause behind it. It might be lung disease, heart disorder, psychological issues, or simply strenuous work. So, asking for professional medical assistance is very important, preferably a specialist in lung and respiratory diseases.
High temperature is another crucial symptom of pneumonia. It usually denotes a bacterial or viral infection. The normal temperature of the body is steady at 37 ° C, if it rises, it automatically means that there is something wrong inside the body.
Fever is the bodies’ defense against germs and viruses. Our immune system attacks any foreign body that enters our system, and sometimes this might result in a fever. Fever isn’t always dangerous but if it reaches 39.4 ° C ( 103 degrees Fahrenheit) seeking clinical help would be imperative.
If your fever is accompanied by problems with breathing, pain in the chest or abdomen, severe cough, high temperature for more than 3 consecutive days, or unconsciousness, it might insinuate pneumonia.
In addition to the previous symptoms, having difficulty breathing, or excessive production of sputum might also point out to chronic bronchitis. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the condition from progressing.
Pneumonia causes several complications including:
1- respiratory failure
2- Strong pneumonia for more than 3 months
3- Enlarged and weakened right ventricle of the heart due to lung disease.
6. nausea and Vomiting
Nausea is an irritating feeling that we have all experienced at some point. It is often accompanied by excruciating pain in the abdomen and a feeling of weakness.
Nausea can affect the lungs as a result of acid running in its opposite course which might cause lung abscess or fibrosis, chest allergies, and pneumonia.
The causes of nausea are numerous. It could be the byproduct of a viral, rheumatic, or bacterial infection in the stomach or lung. Severe nausea is usually followed by vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to light and loud sounds. If the nausea is unbearable consulting your doctor might bring some comfort back.
Coughing out blood can sometimes be a very serious issue. The severity of the symptom depends on where the blood is coming from, whether it comes from the respiratory system or the mouth.
Hemoptysis is a term used to describe coughing up blood. It can indicate issues at the level of the blood vessels or acute pneumonia that requires immediate medical attention.
Coughing up large amounts of blood indicates that the condition is quite serious that not only needs a doctor’s visit but might require calling an ambulance. Coughing up blood should never be ignored regardless of the cause or source. Therefore, as soon as blood comes out, resorting to a doctor should be an immediate response.