Signs of Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lung parenchyma and it is characterized by the inflammation of lungs. It is mainly caused by fungi, bacteria, parasites or viruses. In general it emerges after an infection on the upper respiratory tract. After the beginning of the infection, the symptoms appear two or three days after the cold or the sore throat. People with ages over the sixty five years or with less than two years of age and those with an alteration on the immune system or chronic diseases have a higher risk for the emergence of pneumonia. There are more than fifty types of this infection which have a variable severity which can go from mild to potentially lethal. The pneumonia is responsible for the death of about sixty thousand people every year on the United States.
Among the causes for pneumonia, the bacterial infection is the most common and severe; the Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common species of bacteria that causes this infection on adults. The Mycoplasma pneumoniae is the most common micro-organism which triggers pneumonia on children with ages between two and three years of age. There are different types of pneumonia depending on the source for the disease, these types include:
- Acquired on the community (acquired on work or on the school)
- Emerging pathogens such as sprouts of influenza or the H5N1 virus
- Acquired on a hospital (disease caused by gastric reflux which is the predisposing factor)
- Pneumonia caused by opportunistic germs (which is very common on people with a compromised immune system)
- Acquired due to aspiration (due to the inhalation of estrange particles)
There is variability in how the criteria for diagnosis as there are authors who require only the presence of radiographic infiltrates on chest radiograph while others just the presence of respiratory symptoms. In general, pneumonia is defined as the presence of fever and/or respiratory symptoms and evidence of parenchymal infiltrates on chest radiograph.
In 1994, WHO published a guide for diagnosis of pneumonia with five clinical parameters: respiratory rate, chest retractions, cyanosis, feeding difficulty and absence of wheezing. This guide is intended for high-burden countries by NAC, low socioeconomic status, poor access to hospitals and medicines. Today, in developed countries is accepted the appropriateness and usefulness of radiological confirmation for diagnosis.
Pneumonias are classified into two groups:
- Community-acquired (or extra-hospital). The most typical are the pneumococcal pneumonia and Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
- Hospital Pneumonia. They tend to be far more serious, as the host defense mechanisms are often affected and the causative organisms are usually much more resistant.
The typical signs and symptoms of pneumonia are:
- Fever, chills and sweating.
- Productive cough with mucous expectoration, yellow, salmon-colored, purulent (according to the causative organism).
- Chest pain that increases with breathing and coughing.
- Muscle and joint pain.
- Lack of appetite, weakness and malaise.
- Dyspnea (difficulty breathing), in some cases.
- Crackles on auscultation in the affected area.
The infection by itself is not contagious, but viruses and bacteria that cause pneumonia can be contagious.