Pneumonia Treatments & Common Complications
A serious infection that causes inflammation within the air sacs in one or both lungs, pneumonia can be deadly. To keep you and your family safe this flu season, it’s important to know the signs of pneumonia, along with common risks and treatments.
What Is it?
Pneumonia can occur when a person breathes bacteria or viruses into his or her lungs. In response, air sacs become inflamed and may begin to fill with pus or fluid, causing chills, fever, breathing difficulties and coughing.
People are more likely to develop pneumonia after having a cold or the flu, because these infections can make it difficult for the lungs to fight off infection. In most cases, pneumonia clears up within two to three weeks; however, in certain instances, complications can be very serious if not treated quickly.
Pneumonia complications are most common among infants and young children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems or existing health problems. That said, they do sometimes occur in healthy individuals.
Even with treatment, pneumonia can cause serious issues, including:
• Bacteremia: This occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstreams via the lungs and spread infection to other organs.
• Breathing problems: When pneumonia causes oxygen deficiencies, people may require hospitalization or breathing assistance from a ventilator.
• Fluid accumulation: Pneumonia can cause fluid to gather between layers of tissue lining the lungs or within the chest cavity. If this fluid becomes infected, it may need to be removed through a chest tube or with surgery.
Do Antibiotics Treat Pneumonia?
While not effective with every type of pneumonia, antibiotics are often used to treat pneumonia caused by bacterial infections. This is the case with lung abscesses, which occur when pus develops within a cavity inside the lung. Sometimes, drainage or surgery is also required to remove pus from an abscess.
When to See a Doctor
It’s important to see your doctor anytime you have a persistent cough, chest pain, breathing difficulties, or persistent fever of 102 F. This is especially true for people over 65, children younger than two, and anyone with weakened immune systems or existing health problems.
If you believe you may have pneumonia, consult our team of expert medical professionals at PhysicianOne Urgent Care, available for walk-ins, 7 days per week.