What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that causes the air sacs of the lungs to fill with fluid. This fluid buildup makes it hard for oxygen to enter the bloodstream, creating the symptoms of pneumonia. Viruses and bacteria are the main causes of pneumonia, but on rarer occasions fungus and parasites can cause an infection as well.
During or after a virus like a cold or the flu, your immune system is more susceptible to additional infections, which is why pneumonia can be a flu-related complication to watch for.
Signs and symptoms of pneumonia
Depending on the cause of pneumonia, symptoms can come on quickly, or more gradually. Symptoms include:
- A “productive” cough, meaning mucus (fluid) from the lungs comes up with the cough. Sometimes mucus can be a greenish color, or tinged slightly with blood.
- Feeling short of breath; fast, shallow breathing
- Chest pain that gets worse when coughing
- General feeling of tiredness and feeling weak
Sometimes when symptoms are slower to come on and are less severe, this can be a sign of walking pneumonia. Walking pneumonia is a less severe form of pneumonia, but one that still needs to be evaluated by a medical provider.
How is pneumonia diagnosed and treated?
Pneumonia can lead to serious complications, so early diagnosis and treatment is critical. Pneumonia is typically diagnosed by listening to the patient’s lungs, and/or via a chest X-ray to look for inflammation in the lungs. PhysicianOne Urgent Care has X-ray services available every day should you need them, and our team is able to interpret X-ray results during your visit for a faster diagnosis.
Treatment for pneumonia involves curing the infection and preventing any further complications. Treatments will vary depending on whether the infection is viral or bacterial. Antibiotics may be used to treat bacterial pneumonia, but will not help treat an infection caused by a virus.
When diagnosed at the start of symptoms, the prognosis for pneumonia in otherwise healthy adults and children is very good, and with proper treatment generally clears in 2-3 weeks.
If you or someone in your family is experiencing symptoms of pneumonia, it is important to seek medical care early. PhysicianOne Urgent Care centers are open 7 days/week with experienced providers and team members on staff to help diagnose and treat pneumonia and other upper respiratory infections.