Emergency Room: Go For Pneumonia
Pneumonia is amongst the leading infectious causes of death in the United States; with about 50,000 people dying every year. Front Line ER has compiled this article to give you information on what you need to know about Pneumonia and when to see a doctor to avoid further complications that may arise.
What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a type of lung infection that causes inflammation or swelling of the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. The air sacs are filled with fluid or pus, and this causes the lungs to become less elastic and cannot, therefore; take oxygen into the blood or remove carbon dioxide from the blood frequently.
Since the alveoli are swollen and don’t work efficiently, the lungs are unable to extract oxygen from the air. This causes shortness of breath (dyspnea), which is one of the main symptoms of pneumonia.
A bacterial or viral infection may cause pneumonia in your lungs. The disease may be severe or mild, and patients with pneumonia especially children may not show clear signs of chest infection, thus making it hard to pinpoint what is wrong.
- Breathing of germs directly into your lungs
- The presence of bacteria or viruses(flu virus) that inhabit in your sinuses, nose or mouth; and may spread to the lungs
- Inhaling foods or fluid from the mouth and into the lungs(aspiration pneumonia)
- Pneumocystis jiroveci, a fungus that causes pneumonia in patients who have a weaker immune system especially those with advanced HIV infection
Babies born prematurely are at a higher risk of developing pneumonia. Alcoholics, chain smokers or people with chronic lung conditions such as bronchitis, asthma or bronchiectasis are also profoundly affected.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
Symptoms can be a little different depending on one’s age, general health, and the type of infection you may have. Generally, the more sections of your lungs that are infected, the severe the disease.
Pneumonia can be very critical particularly in people who have pre-existing heart or lung conditions, the elderly, people with weakened immunity, or in expecting women. If you think that you are likely to have pneumonia, or are experiencing any of the following symptoms, please contact FrontLine ER immediately.
- Shortness of breath
- Increased mucus production
- Chest pain that fluctuates when you breathe
- Difficult or laboured breathing
- A prolonged high fever that is accompanied by chills
- Feeling worse after a bout with the cold or flu
- A persistent cough, especially one producing rust or green coloured mucus
There may be prolonged consequences of pneumonia, even for the people who fully recover.
Children, who recuperate from pneumonia, have an increased risk for chronic lung diseases. Also, adults who recover may have weakened ability to think, heart disease, and may be less physically active. This is according to the American Thoracic Society (ATS).
What Can I Expect In the Emergency Room?
Upon arrival at FrontLine ER, several things are done to ensure an accurate diagnosis is made, and appropriate treatment is given. These include:
The emergency physicians will often check you. A sensor is attached to your finger or earlobe to monitor your blood oxygen level. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature will also be checked regularly. Any IV fluids you receive or everything you eat and drink may be monitored closely as well.
Arterial blood gas (ABG) is a blood test that measures the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood system.
X-rays of the inside of your chest are taken to check if there is any improvement with the pneumonia treatment or for other additional problems.
Sputum culture test also is done by testing the fluid collected in the lungs- to check for infection. Separate blood tests are also done to check for any disease.
To treat pneumonia effectively, several factors have to be considered. The cause, your symptoms, how well you respond to treatment, overall health, and any complications that you may have.
A small tube (IV catheter) will be inserted into a vein either in your hand or arm. This allows for medicine to be administered directly into your blood and to give you fluids if need be.
A small tube may be placed under your nose or through a mask over your face for receiving oxygen.
Your provider may also prescribe you with antibiotics that can be taken home. When taking antibiotics, do your best not to miss any single dose and avoid cough medicine unless advised to do so by your practitioner.
We here at FrontLine ER believe that in as much as pneumonia is life-threatening, it can still be prevented. Be sure to get Flu Vaccine and Pneumococcal vaccine to help lower your chances of getting viruses and bacteria. Vaccines are essential in adults, children, and people who have asthma, HIV, diabetes, organ transplants and other long-term conditions. Avoid smoking tobacco because it damages your lung’s ability to fight infections.