Who Is At High Risk Of Pneumonia
Cases of pneumonia can be mild to severe and even life-threatening, depending on your physical condition and the type of pneumonia your have. Anyoneyoung or oldcan get this respiratory condition. The following groups are more susceptible to developing pneumonia:
- People 65 years of age and older
- Patients with a preexisting respiratory illness, such as COPD or asthma
- People with underlying health problems, such as heart disease or HIV/AIDS
- Those with weakened immune systems, such as patients undergoing chemotherapy, recovering from surgery, taking immunosuppressant drugs, or breathing on a ventilator
- People with overall poor health
- People who smoke or drink excessive amounts of alcohol
A medical professional can diagnose pneumonia with a physical examination or chest X-ray and prescribe medication as necessary.
In general, children are more likely to get pneumonia than adults. Pneumonia is the number one cause of childhood deaths in the world. Although child mortality rates from pneumonia are significantly less in America because of available health care, pneumonia is the number one reason why children are hospitalized in the United States. Children 5 years old and younger are at higher risk for pneumonia than older children.
When And How Is Pneumonia Contagious
A person can spread the germs that cause pneumonia when he or she coughs and expels the bacterial or viral infections that caused the disease. The droplets containing the virus or bacteria can land on a common surface, such as a table, telephone, or computer. You could also breathe in the droplets and bring them into your own breathing tract.
The time that a person may pass along pneumonia varies depending on the type and how he or she acquired it. Additionally, some types of pneumonia are much more contagious than others. Two examples of highly contagious strains of this illness are mycoplasma and mycobacterium.
Once a person who has pneumonia starts on antibiotics, he or she only remains contagious for the next 24 to 48 hours. This can be longer for certain types of organisms, including those that cause the disease tuberculosis. In that case, someone can remain contagious for up to two weeks after starting on antibiotics. When someone has viral pneumonia, the contagious period starts to subside when the symptoms do. This is particularly true of fever. Keep in mind that someone who had pneumonia may still cough occasionally for several weeks, even after he or she is no longer contagious.
How Is Pneumonia Spread From Person To Person
Pneumonia is spread when droplets of fluid containing the pneumonia bacteria or virus are launched in the air when someone coughs or sneezes and then inhaled by others. You can also get pneumonia from touching an object previously touched by the person with pneumonia or touching a tissue used by the infected person and then touching your mouth or nose.
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Antibioticsor Wait It Out
Along with a physical exam, your doctor may take a sputum culture, chest X-ray, and blood work to determine if you have a viral or bacterial form of pneumonia, Turner says.
Your diagnosis is important since it helps determine treatment. If you have viral pneumonia, I wouldnt prescribe to you an antibiotic, says Dr. Brown.
Thats for three important reasons. First, antibiotics simply dont work to treat viruses. And, they can lead to unpleasant side effects . Finally, unnecessary use of antibiotics means that they might not be effective when you do actually need them for treatment, says Dr. Brown. We always strive to give the right treatment to the right patient at the right time, she notes.
What Is The Outlook For Pneumonia
People who are otherwise healthy often recover quickly when given prompt and proper care. However, pneumonia is a serious condition and can be life-threatening if left untreated and especially for those individuals at increased risk for pneumonia.
Even patients who have been successfully treated and have fully recovered may face long-term health issues. Children who have recovered from pneumonia have an increased risk of chronic lung diseases. Adults may experience:
- General decline in quality of life for months or years
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Why Do People Get Pneumonia
That depends on what type of pneumonia it is. All sorts of virusesfrom the common cold to influenzacan lead to viral pneumonia, which is fairly contagious, Roger Lovell, MD, infectious disease specialist at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center, tells Health. It passes easily between coworkers, spouses, friends, and fellow commuters.
The good news? Most cases of viral pneumonia are mild, notes the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . Typically, youll improve in a few weeks.
Bacterial pneumonia often occurs after another illness, like the cold or the flu. However, most of the time, the bacteria behind bacterial pneumonia do not spread from person to person, says Dr. Lovell.
That’s true for the number one cause of bacterial pneumonia: a type of bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is found in many peoples throats naturally, generally without causing harm, says Dr. Lovell. The exception: “If you are not healthy or have problems with your immune system or have conditions that make it harder to fight off bacteria, then you are more susceptible to these bacteria, and it can lead to pneumonia,” he says.
Along with viral and bacterial pneumonia, there’s a third type worth knowing: fungal. This variant is far more rare and generally seen only in people with a weakened immune system due to certain conditions. Other types of pneumonia to note: necrotizing pneumonia and cryptogenic organizing pneumonia .
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Bacterial Versus Viral Pneumonia In Adults
Symptoms of pneumonia can range from mild sometimes called walking pneumonia to severe. How serious your case of pneumonia depends on the particular germ causing pneumonia, your overall health, and your age.
Bacterial pneumonia: Symptoms of bacterial pneumonia can develop gradually or suddenly. Symptoms include:
- High fever
Additional symptoms appearing about a day later include:
- Higher fever
- Shortness of breath
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What Causes Multifocal Pneumonia
Technically, multifocal pneumonia can be caused by the same things that cause other types of pneumoniaviruses, bacteria, and fungi. But if its multifocal, its more likely to be caused by a virus, like weve seen with COVID-19, Khalilah Gates, MD, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Northwestern Medicine, tells Health. Other potential causes of viral multifocal pneumonia include respiratory syncytial virus and some common cold and flu viruses, according to the US National Library of Medicines MedlinePlus resource.
Multifocal pneumonia can also be caused by a bacteria like streptococcus pneumoniae or legionella pneumophila, or a fungus like pneumocystis pneumonia, coccidioidomycosis, or cryptococcus, Dr. Casciari says. Having multifocal pneumonia doesnt automatically signify whats causing the pneumonia, he says. We still have to investigate.
What Are The Treatment Options
Viral pneumonia usually goes away on its own. Therefore, treatment focuses on easing some of the symptoms. A person with viral pneumonia should get sufficient rest and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
A doctor may prescribe cough-relieving medication to help ease coughing. People should only take cough suppressant medicine if and when a doctor instructs them to because coughing helps clear the infection from the lungs. For those with thick lung mucus, a doctor may prescribe a cough expectorant.
In some cases of viral pneumonia, a doctor may prescribe antiviral medication to reduce viral activity. This treatment tends to be most effective when the virus is in the early stage of infection.
In rare instances, a doctor may hospitalize a person with viral pneumonia. People over the age of 65 or with chronic health conditions are more likely to need hospital care. The very young are also at higher risk for serious viral pneumonia.
The viruses that cause viral pneumonia are contagious. During the cold and flu season, a person can take steps to stay healthy. These steps may protect against viral pneumonia and other viral illnesses.
Some techniques that people can use to try to prevent getting sick include:
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How Is Pneumonia Treated
How pneumonia is treated depends on the germs that cause it.
- Bacterial pneumonia: Bacterial pneumonia is usually treated with antibiotics. The specific antibiotic choice depends on such factors as your general health, other health conditions you may have, the type of medications you are currently taking , your recent use of antibiotics, any evidence of antibiotic resistance in the local community and your age. Medicines to relieve pain and lower fever may also be helpful. Ask your doctor if you should take a cough suppressant. Its important to be able to cough to clear your lungs.
- Viral pneumonia: Antibiotics are not used to fight viruses. There are no treatments for most viral causes of pneumonia. However, if the flu virus is thought to be the cause, antiviral drugs might be prescribed, such as oseltamivir , zanamivir , or peramivir , to decrease the length and severity of the illness. Over-the-counter medicines to relieve pain and lower fever are usually recommended. Other medicines and therapies such as breathing treatments and exercises to loosen mucus may be prescribed by your doctor.
- Fungal pneumonia: Antifungal medication is prescribed if a fungus is the cause of your pneumonia.
How Is It Diagnosed
Your doctor might be able to tell if you have viral pneumonia just by examining you and asking questions about your symptoms and general health. Chances are your doctor will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope. Thatâs because certain sounds can mean fluid is in your lungs. But if your doctor isnât sure, you might have to get a chest X-ray.
Some people might need extra tests. These might include:
- A pulse oximetry
- Tests of the gunk you cough up
- CT scan to look more closely at your lungs
- A pleural fluid culture
- Bronchoscopy — a look into your lungs through a scope
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When To Seek Medical Care For Your Pneumonia
At UPMC Western Maryland, we recommend that any person who has had a cough and a fever after experiencing flu-like symptoms schedule an appointment with their primary care provider as soon as possible or visit a UPMC Western Maryland urgent care center. This is especially important if the cough produces sputum that appears brown, green, or yellow in color. Anyone who experiences shortness of breath, high fever, confusion, or pain after a diagnosis of pneumonia should go to the UPMC Western Maryland Emergency Department immediately for treatment. Those with a depressed immune system or chronic conditions like HIV or diabetes should also seek immediate care.
UPMC Western Maryland wishes you a safe and healthy winter of 2019. If youre concerned about the possibility of pneumonia, we encourage you to speak to your primary care provider about a vaccine to prevent some of its types. Its also important to maintain good personal hygiene standards, avoid people who are already sick with pneumonia, and stay home when you have the disease yourself.
Please note, the information provided throughout this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and video, on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. If you are experiencing relating symptoms, please visit your doctor or call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
What Causes Bacterial Pneumonia
Doctors often refer to typical and atypical pneumonias, based on the signs and symptoms of the condition. This can help to predict the type of bacteria causing the pneumonia, the duration of the illness, and the optimal treatment method.
Typical pneumonia comes on very quickly.
- Typical pneumonia usually results in a high fever and shaking chills.
- Typical pneumonia usually leads to the production of yellow or brown sputum when coughing.
- There may be chest pain, which is usually worse with breathing or coughing. The chest also may be sore when it is touched or pressed.
- Typical pneumonia can cause shortness of breath, especially if the person has any chronic lung conditions such as asthma or emphysema.
- Because chest pain also can be a sign of other serious medical conditions, do not try to self-diagnose.
- Older people can have confusion or a change in their mental abilities as a sign of pneumonia or other infection.
Atypical pneumonia has a gradual onset.
- It is often referred to as walking pneumonia.
- Sometimes it follows another illness in the days to weeks before the pneumonia.
- The fever is usually lower, and shaking chills are less likely.
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How Do The Lungs Work
Your lungs main job is to get oxygen into your blood and remove carbon dioxide. This happens during breathing. You breathe 12 to 20 times per minute when you are not sick. When you breathe in, air travels down the back of your throat and passes through your voice box and into your windpipe . Your trachea splits into two air passages . One bronchial tube leads to the left lung, the other to the right lung. For the lungs to perform their best, the airways need to be open as you breathe in and out. Swelling and mucus can make it harder to move air through the airways, making it harder to breathe. This leads to shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and feeling more tired than normal.
Is Pneumonia Contagious Types And Symptoms Of Pneumonia
Written byDr. Victor MarchionePublished onMay 9, 2016
If you ever wondered whether pneumonia is contagious, we are here to address your concerns. First of all, pneumonia is inflammation of the lung tissue, caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungus. In pneumonia, the air sacs become filled with pus. What part of the lung is affected and whether it is a single lung or both determines what kind of pneumonia it is we will explain the types of pneumonia later on.
Pneumonia may be contagious if it is caused by an infectious microbe. But if pneumonia is caused by chemical fumes or other poisons, then it is not contagious.
The different types of pneumonia stem from their cause. For example, there is bacterial pneumonia and viral pneumonia. Pneumonia can also bear a descriptive name, such as community-acquired or hospital-acquired pneumonia. Most of the types of pneumonia are contagious, but not as contagious as the flu, for example.
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Facts You Should Know About Viral Pneumonia
- Pneumonia is an infection or inflammation of the lungs. It can be in just one part of the lungs, or it can involve many parts.
- Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms.
- The severity of pneumonia depends on which organism is causing the infection and the immune response of the individual to that infection.
- The deadly pandemic COVID-19 coronavirus causes severe lung symptoms including pneumonia in about 16%-20% of the people who contract it. Five percent of those with severe symptoms need a ventilator to breathe, as of March 2020.
- Viral pneumonias other than the one caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 are usually not very serious, but they can be life-threatening in very old and very young patients and in people whose immune systems are weak.
- Another two of the most publicized viral infections causing pneumonia are SARS and H1N1swine flu. Severe acute respiratory syndrome , which is also caused by a virus in the coronavirus family, had a major outbreak in 2003 with an estimated 8,000 cases and 750 deaths.
- Swine flu was associated with an outbreak of pneumonia in 2009. Early reports came from cases in Mexico, with very high mortality. Many cases were also reported in the U.S. However, early identification and treatment helped reduce the death rate significantly.
How To Prevent Catching Or Spreading Bronchitis
To avoid catching bronchitis, stay away from sick people. If you have to be around people and you dont know if theyre sick, make sure to wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer if you cant. If youre worried about getting sick, you can wear a face mask to avoid inhaling germs.
If youre already sick and worried about spreading your infection, the best advice is to stay away from other people. Dont go out running errands yourself if you dont have to. Dont go to work. Stay home and focus on feeling better.
If you do have to go out, cover your mouth and nose and cough or sneeze into your elbow. Avoid touching people and surfaces, especially if theyre shared .
If youre sick at home and want to avoid getting others in your household sick, you can use these same precautions. Wear masks, wash hands often, dont stay in close quarters .
A good idea to help prevent yourself from getting sick, especially if youre older, is to make sure you get your flu shot every year and consider a pneumonia vaccine.
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How Long Is Pneumonia Contagious
Pneumonia may be contagious for 2-14 days. Usually, the goal of medications given for pneumonia is to limit the spread of the disease. A person with bacterial pneumonia will stop being contagious within two days of taking antibiotics. However, rarely, the treatment may have to be administered for at least two weeks or more before a person is no longer contagious, depending upon which type of bacteria has caused the disease. Individuals with viral pneumonia are less contagious after symptoms have subsided.