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Pneumonia - Anatomy Of The Lung, Function Of The Respiratory System, Respiratory System Defenses, Conditions Predisposing To Pneumonia - Signs and symptoms of pneumonia, Treatment

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Pneumonia is an infection of the lung, and can be caused by nearly any class of organism known to cause human infections, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. In the United States, pneumonia is the sixth most common disease leading to death, and the most common fatal infection acquired by already hospitalized patients. In developing countries, pneumonia ties with diarrhea as the most common cause of death.


Signs and symptoms of pneumonia

Pneumonia is suspected in any patient who presents with fever, cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, and increased respirations (number of breaths per minute). Fever with a shaking chill is even more suspicious, and many patients cough up clumps of mucus (sputum) which may appear streaked with pus or blood. Severe pneumonia results in the signs of oxygen deprivation, including blue appearance of the nail beds (cyanosis).


Treatment

Bacterial pneumonia prior to the discovery of penicillin antibiotics was a virtual death sentence. Today, antibiotics, especially given early in the course of the disease, are very effective against bacterial causes of pneumonia. Erythromycin and tetracycline improve recovery time for symptoms of mycoplasma pneumonia, but do not eradicate the organisms. Amantadine and acyclovir may be helpful against certain viral pneumonias.


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