Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. It occurs when bacteria or other infections (viruses, fungus) get into the lungs via the throat. It is more serious than the common cold or bronchitis, and requires treatment by a doctor. It often occurs in the winter months, and is most commonly caused by bacteria that get into the lungs by passing our normal defenses: the filter in our nose, the cough reflex, and our immune system.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Populations with a weakened immune system, the very young and the very old, and those with lung disease or damage (including smokers) are at the highest risk of developing pneumonia. Generally, these are people with HIV/AIDS, cancer patients and those over 65 years old. Smoking, emphysema, COPD, and recent viral infections (influenza or flu) all put you at higher risk.
The symptoms of pneumonia include fever, chills, cough with phlegm, difficulty breathing, and even vomiting and diarrhea. Less severe illnesses such as bronchitis or cold rarely cause fevers higher than 100.4 F and this can be a good tool to distinguish them from pneumonia.The color of your sputum (phlegm) is not a good indicator of whether you have a bacterial infection.
DIAGNOSIS AND PNEUMONIA TREATMENT
Things that suggest a diagnosis of pneumonia include having the above mentioned symptoms and certain sounds in your lungs that can be heard with a stethoscope. A diagnosis is confirmed with a chest x-ray or CT scan (cat scan) of your lungs. Often, the doctor will be able to see a collection of inflamed lung tissue on the x-ray. Treatment for bacterial pneumonia is always antibiotics. Pneumonia will always get worse without treatment. Depending on the severity of the illness, you may require a short stay in the hospital for intravenous (in your vein) antibiotics and careful monitoring and treatment.
HOW PLUSHCARE WORKS
1. Video chat with your PlushCare doctor and tell them about your symptoms and medical history.
2. The doctor can prescribe antibiotics, order a chest x-ray, or even order blood work at your local lab.
3. Pick up your prescription at your pharmacy, or get your results online and followup with your PlushCare doctor for treatment.