Pneumonia (pneumonia, bronchopneumonia) is an acute inflammation of the lung tissue due to infectious, allergic or physicochemical causes. In some industrialized countries, pneumonia is the most common infectious disease leading to death. Learn more about the causes, symptoms, duration and treatment of pneumonia.
Causes of pneumonia
Depending on the pathogenesis, a distinction is made between non-infectious and infectious pneumonia:
- Non-infectious pneumonia, for example, is allergic or due to physical-chemical stimuli (such as poison inhalation).
- Infectious pneumonia caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. In this case, a direct infection of the lung tissue may be the cause or the infection may be caused by dilation of the bronchi (bronchitis) on the nearby lung tissue.
As an exception, food particles that have been swallowed into the lungs of children or elderly people can cause inflammation.
Types of pneumonia
The pneumonia can be classified according to different aspects. In part, these divisions are historically conditioned. They also serve to select a suitable (provisional) therapy until microbiological pathogen detection is available.
A simple distinction is the classification based on the symptoms. A distinction is made between the typical onset of acute onset and atypical pneumonia, in which the signs of disease slowly arise.
Symptoms of a typical pneumonia
In a typical pneumonia, which is usually caused by bacterial pathogens (for example, pneumococci or streptococci), developed within 12 to 24 hours, a serious clinical picture.
The following symptoms can be observed in typical pneumonia:
- The patient suddenly gets high fever, which can reach 40 degrees Celsius and often has chills.
- The pulse speeds up to 120 beats per minute.
- At the same time, coughing occurs.
- After a short while, the patient coughs out purulent, yellowish or green sputum. It may be blood in the ejection. The color of the ejection then changes to reddish-brown.
- Often, the patient complains of respiratory distress and breathing pain due to involvement of the lung pelvis.
- Striking is a sweetish or foul smelling bad breath.
- Some patients breathe quickly and shallowly, with the nostrils moving considerably (nostrils), and the diseased part of the ribcage visibly less involved in breathing (respiratory respiration).
Signs of atypical pneumonia
Atypical pneumonia is not limited to a lobe. The site of inflammation may be stored centrally or scattered throughout the lung tissue, sometimes with flowing transitions. Most younger people are affected without preconditions or comorbidities.
Before the disease comes to an outbreak, flu-like symptoms occur. The general condition is only slightly impaired in comparison to flap pneumonia. The fever rises slowly to about 38.5 degrees Celsius. Atypical pneumonia rarely extends to the pleura. Likewise, the purulent sputum typical of flap pneumonia is absent.
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Pneumonia: duration and course
Depending on the origin of the disease, a distinction is made between non-infectious and infectious pneumonia. The course of typical pneumonia shows an increase in symptoms within the first seven days. Subsequently, the symptoms are declining and convalescence begins, which can take up to 12 weeks.
Complications of pneumonia
The sometimes very severe course in bedridden patients, the weakened victims of pneumonia can die. As a consequence of pneumonia, a lung abscess with copious, foul-smelling expectoration can occur, rarely also lung gangrene (gangrene) in the presence of putrefactive agents in the lungs.
Pneumonia: treatment and therapy
The basic therapy involves targeted control of the respective pathogens with one antibiotic or several antibiotics.
In addition, the following measures should be taken to treat pneumonia:
- In the case of an insatiable cough without expectoration, cough suppressants (with codeine) are administered.
- In productive cough, expectorants support the mucus solution. However, these should not be given in conjunction with cough suppressant medications, except at night.
- In severe pain or high fever (in general, the limit is 38.5 degrees Celsius), antipyretic and analgesic (for example, acetaminophen) are indicated.
- Bedridden patients require thrombosis prophylaxis.
- It is very important to have sufficient fluid, if necessary as an infusion. But beware: Since it is primarily older people who develop pneumonia, care must be taken to see whether they suffer from heart failure.
- Good respiratory therapy effectively supports the treatment.
- Occasionally, in particularly severe cases, oxygen must be administered via a nasogastric tube.