Emergency Care for Urgent Situations: Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs and is mostly caused by bacteria, viruses as well as fungi or parasites in less common situations. It is a lower respiratory infection of the lungs. It causes the inflammation of the air sacs in your lungs, called alveoli, which leads to these air sacs to fill up with fluid or pus making it difficult to breathe. Pneumonia also leads to one developing flu-like symptoms which can last for weeks and which usually don’t respond to over-the-counter medications. Once diagnosed, pneumonia is usually easy to treat, with early diagnosis and treatment being key as far as it is concerned. However, there are certain situations where pneumonia could be serious and can be potentially life-threatening. Given that pneumonia affects the lungs, which are among the body’s major organs, then it is important to know how to proceed if you suspect you may have pneumonia. This is because pneumonia can compromise one’s ability to breathe or ventilate and may lead to major health complications and unwanted consequences including loss of life. Statistics show that up to 15% of cases of pneumonia actually are fatal hence why it is important to know when and how to seek medical attention, something this article will look to assist with.
The first thing you should look out for is symptoms that may indicate that it is time to seek medical attention as far as your pneumonia is concerned. Here, if you are presenting with a fever, and on top of that you are also coughing up what appears to be yellow, brown or green sputum, then you should seek medical attention as soon as you can to be attended to for your pneumonia. If these are the symptoms you are presenting with, then you can call up your doctor and make an appointment with them. However, if you are experiencing severe symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pain, then you should seek emergency care as soon as possible. In such a situation, you should call 911 and have an ambulance come and take you to an emergency room as soon as you can. When you are experiencing shortness of breath, you usually feel like you are struggling to take in enough air and are struggling to breath. Difficulties breathing should always be taken seriously and should always be handled at an emergency room due to the potential consequences involved. Other than chest pain and breathing difficulties, you should also head over to an emergency room if you are coughing up blood or if you notice blood in your sputum or phlegm. Other signs that your pneumonia is an emergency and as such you need to seek emergency care include if you notice gurgling sounds in your throat, a bluish color on your skin, lips or fingernails or if you are experiencing persistent vomiting, confusion, severe fever, severe headache or extreme lethargy.
You should also establish if you are among the risk groups that are likely to suffer complications due to pneumonia. These groups include children and infants under the age of 2 years, adults over the age of 65 years, those with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart failure or cystic fibrosis, those who have recently had a respiratory infection such as cold or flu, those with a weakened immune system which may be as a result of taking immunosuppressant medication, cancer drugs and chemotherapy or HIV as well as those who smoke or drink excessive amounts of alcohol. If you fall in any of these categories, then you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible, especially if you have a weakened immune system as you are likely to suffer severe complications if you don’t. Those with lungs that are not healthy either due to asthma or emphysema should seek medical attention as soon as possible as they are also vulnerable to complications.
Other than being part of a high risk group, there are certain scenarios that mean you should also seek medical attention as far as pneumonia is concerned. If you have been hospitalized recently and especially if you were on a ventilator, then you should seek medical attention if you suspect you have pneumonia. If you are presenting with symptoms that indicate you may have pneumonia and you have been recently exposed to lung irritants such as fumes and other chemicals that may have damaged your lungs, then you should also seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you have had a splenectomy, that is you have had your spleen removed, then you should also seek medical attention if you suspect you have pneumonia as studies show that folks who have had their spleen removed are very susceptible to infections in the body such as pneumonia and should always be on the lookout for signs of such infections.
Whenever you are in an urgent situation as far as pneumonia is concerned, the above are some of the signs or things to look out for to ensure that you get yourself medical attention as soon as you can to prevent any unwanted consequences.