How to Spot Pneumonia: Common Symptoms

 By: Jillian Smith
Pneumonia is inflammation and often infection of the lungs. Although some forms of pneumonia are mild and don't require medical treatment, other forms of the disease can be severe and need prompt medical intervention. Statistics indicate that over 3 million people in the United States are diagnosed with pneumonia each year, and many of them require hospitalization. When pneumonia is caused by infectious agents, the disease is very contagious and it can be easily transmitted through sneezing, cough or physical contact. Therefore, many patients are not hospitalized for the seriousness of their disease, but to prevent them from spreading pneumonia to other people.

There are many forms of pneumonia and some are not caused by infection with microorganisms. Aspiration pneumonia is common in very small children and elderly people, but it can also occur in adults. This form of pneumonia is caused by inhalation of foreign matters: fluids, dust, chemicals or other irritants. This condition is mostly common in small children due to inhalation of vomit or food. Aspiration pneumonia symptoms are usually not very intense and they ameliorate within a few days. Aspiration pneumonia symptoms are: dry cough, chest soreness and pain, wheezing, difficult breathing. Although medical treatment is not required for overcoming this form of pneumonia, it is best to see a doctor as soon as you spot its symptoms.

Infectious forms of pneumonia can be either caused by viruses, bacteria and mycoplasmas. Viral and mycoplasma pneumonia are usually milder than bacterial forms of the disease and they rarely require medical treatment.

Viral pneumonia is very common in children, teenagers and elderly people and it can be mistaken for flu or cold. Viral pneumonia symptoms are: throat inflammation, cough, swelling of the lymph nodes, chest discomfort when breathing, headache and a generalized state of fatigue. The cough can sometimes produce small amounts of mucus. Mild fever and chills may accompany viral pneumonia symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Viral pneumonia symptoms usually ameliorate within a few days and the infection completely clears up on itself in a few weeks.

Bacterial pneumonia can be severe and therefore, it can produce more intense symptoms. Bacterial forms of pneumonia are more common in adults and people with weak immune system. Bacterial pneumonia symptoms are: high fever, excessive sweating, mucus-producing cough, shortness of breath, chest pain and soreness when breathing, abdominal pain, nausea, muscle pain, pronounced body weakness. Bacterial pneumonia symptoms can also include cyanosis (due to lack of blood oxygenation) and brown-colored mucus producing cough. If the disease is severe, the cough may contain traces of blood.

Mycoplasma pneumonia can be developed by anyone, regardless of health condition and age. However, this form of pneumonia is usually mild and doesn't require any medical treatment. Mycoplasma pneumonia symptoms are: mucus producing cough, chest pain, difficulty breathing, headache, fatigue. Other mycoplasma pneumonia symptoms are: moderate fever, chills, abdominal pain and discomfort, nausea and vomiting. This form of pneumonia develops slowly and its symptoms may only be perceived after several weeks from catching the disease. Although mycoplasma pneumonia is not considered to be serious, it is advised to see a doctor as soon as you spot its first symptoms.
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