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Pneumonia

  • What is Pneumonia?

    Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. Pneumonia can affect anyone of any age. However the elderly (>65 years old) and young children are most vulnerable. Pneumonia obstructs the normal exchange of gas inside the lungs, which leads to low levels of the oxygen in the blood and impaired removal of carbon dioxide from the body. The severity of Pneumonia ranges from mild to life threatening.

  • Pneumonia can affect anyone at any age and it can usually be triggered by cold or flu bouts.

    • People who have a weakened immune system, due to AIDS or cancer, are also at high risk of developing Pneumonia.
    • Various micro-organisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites can cause Pneumonia.
    • Young children are considered most susceptible to Pneumonia, as well as the elderly, who may suffer from chronic illnesses such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, diabetes and congestive heart failure.

    Viral pneumonia often affects people living in areas where there are epidemics of respiratory viral infections including SARS and influenza.

  • Symptoms associated with Pneumonia differ considerably depending on the cause and the health condition of the patient. These may include:

    • Blue tinge to skin, lips, tongue and fingertips due to lack of oxygen
    • Breathing difficulty and wheezing
    • Chest pain when breathing and coughing
    • Coughing
    • Fever and chills
    • Green or yellow-coloured sputum
  • Treatment of Pneumonia depends on the causative agent that triggered the infection. Your doctor will evaluate your condition and suggest the treatments that suit you best. These may include:

    • Antibiotics to treat bacterial Pneumonia
    • Antiviral medication to treat viral Pneumonia
    • Hospitalisation may be required for severe cases of Pneumonia to receive intravenous antibiotics and oxygen supply
    • Medication to alleviate Pneumonia symptoms including cough, fever, chest pains and muscle aches (given together with suggested antibiotics and antiviral medication)
    • Plenty of bed rest, a healthy diet and lots of fluid may be enough to treat mild viral Pneumonia
    • Acute respiratory distress syndrome if pneumonia affects both lungs, leading to gas exchange failure
    • Bacteraemia (due to bacteria entering the blood)
    • Emphysema (infection of the lung airways)
    • Lung abscess
    • Pleural effusion (fluid accumulation between chest wall and the lung)
    • Septic shock can trigger circulation failure and lead to kidney failure and blood clotting abnormalities
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