Pneumonia is an infection of the lower respiratory tract that causes inflammation of the air sacs of the lung. The air sacs get filled with fluid or pus and this causes difficulty in breathing. This ultimately leads to decreased oxygen levels in the blood. Pneumonia may affect one or more lobes of either one or both the lungs.
Bacterial infections are the most common cause of pneumonia along with viral and fungal infections. These infections are prevalent among all age groups however maximum cases are reported among children and adults above the age of 65.
Signs and symptoms
The signs and symptoms of pneumonia include:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Fever and chills
- Severe cough with phlegm
- Chest pain while coughing
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid heart beat
- Nausea and vomiting
Diagnosis of pneumonia
Blood tests, imaging tests and sputum tests help to detect pneumonia.
- Physical examination: High body temperature, increased respiratory and heart rate and the abnormal breath sounds (obtained with the help of a stethoscope)- all indicate pneumonia.
- Blood tests: It is used to monitor the blood cell count and the occurrence of the infection. A change in the normal blood cell count provides scope for further diagnosis and assessment of the infection. Complete blood count is useful to assess increase in white blood cell count which indicates infection. Arterial blood gases measure the blood pH, amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in blood. This gives an estimate about the lung function.
- Sputum test: The sputum samples are collected by asking a patient to cough forcefully and remove phlegm. This sample is evaluated for microbial growth. This test helps in determining the causative organism and helps in deciding the best suited antimicrobial therapy for the patient.
- Chest x-ray: The scan is essential in diagnosing the location and the severity of the infection. Moreover, chest X-ray may indicate the type of infection (bacterial, viral, and fungal) and check for the presence of complications such as infection of heart muscle or lung collapse.
- Pulse oximetry: This test helps in determining the oxygen carrying capacity of lungs. Pneumonia decreases the oxygen-carrying capacity in the blood. This is due to the reduced rate of exchange of gases between the alveoli and the blood.
- CT scan: A computed tomography (CT) scan is performed to get detailed images of the fluid-filled air sacs of the lungs. This test confirms the location of pneumonia infection in the lungs.
Management of Pneumonia
The treatment of pneumonia aims at reducing the symptoms of cough and inflammation of the respiratory tract. It also helps in further occurrence and spread of the infection.
- Antibiotics: fight bacterial infections and treat pneumonia. Appropriate antibiotics are prescribed based on the causative organism that is diagnosed through sputum test.
- Cough suppressant medications: These medications help in relieving cough and loosening phlegm.
- Pain relievers: These medicines are co-administered with antibiotics and cough suppressant agents to relieve pain and discomfort caused due to pneumonia infection.
- Smoking: Smoking increases the susceptibility to infections. Therefore, it is advised to quit smoking to prevent the risk of respiratory infections.
- Prevent spread of infections: Covering your mouths and nose with tissues or handkerchief while coughing or sneezing prevents the spread of infection from person-to-person.
- Self-hygiene: Cleaning your hands with soap and water at regular intervals prevents the risk of acquiring infections.
- Boost your immune system: This can be achieved by following a healthy diet and regular exercise. A healthy immunity reduces the risk of acquiring infections.
Why choose Apollo Diagnostics?
We have the expertise of 34 + years in healthcare. Our labs are equipped with EQUAS (External Quality Assurance System) and loaded with full automated machines to ensure error free reports, with a quick turnaround time, and at an affordable price. For your convenience, we offer free home collection of samples.
For appointments, please call 4444 2424.
- Pneumonia. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pneumonia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354210. Accessed on 20/10/2017
- Pneumonia. https://www.webmd.com/lung/tc/pneumonia-topic-overview#1. Accessed on 20/10/2017
- Pneumonia. https://www.healthline.com/health/pneumonia#prevention9. Accessed on 20/10/2017