Skye likes writing about mental health, nutrition, and wellness. She is passionate about sharing information that will educate, and positively affect people's lives.
Leann Poston, M.D.
Leann Poston, M.D. earned her medical degree from the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. She completed an MBA from Raj Soin College of Business, focusing on healthcare. She is a full-time medical communication writer and educator.
April 13, 2021
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of your lungs, and several germs can cause it. These include bacteria, viruses, and even fungi. When you breathe in droplets that someone who was ill coughed or sneezed, then you may become sick as well. The contaminants will get into your respiratory system, and if they get past your defenses, they may settle into the alveoli.
The alveoli are the sacs inside your lungs that help you breathe by exchanging carbon dioxide and oxygen. You breathe in air that is high in oxygen and low in carbon dioxide. Just the opposite occurs when you breathe out. Oxygen moves from the alveoli into the blood, and carbon dioxide moves from the blood into the alveoli. When the alveoli become inflamed after an infection, they can fill with liquid. This liquid and swollen tissue make gas exchange difficult. You may start to have problems breathing, and it can lead to some deadly symptoms.
Knowing how you get pneumonia gives you the tools needed to help prevent its spread. Covering your face when coughing and sneezing and washing your hands can help prevent the spread of infection. Playing outside when it is cold and rainy will not give you pneumonia.
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When you get sick, germs inside your nose and mouth can spread to your lungs and work their way into your alveoli.
These contaminants can be:
You may also breathe in some of the bacteria, fungi, or viruses from outside sources, which can happen whenever you are around someone who is sick, and you end up breathing the same air. It can also occur if something goes down the wrong pipe – food, water, or fluids from the mouth.
Additionally, your overall health can increase the risk of getting pneumonia. Problems with your immune system, heart disease, cigarette smoking, and surgery on the mouth and neck can all increase your risk.
Pneumonia symptoms can be anywhere from mild to life-threatening, and some of the symptoms include:
Some of the symptoms will change depending on how old you are. For example, if you are a young child, you might have wheezing and fast breathing, while older people are much more susceptible to chills and confusion.
There are several different types of pneumonia that you can get, with each type being named after where the responsible contaminant came from. The question of exactly what pneumonia is has multiple answers.
All of these different types of pneumonia have a different set of pneumonia causes, but the treatment method is the same for each. You treat the cause of pneumonia.
Pneumonia typically happens right after our lungs and bodies are weak from something else, such as the cold or the flu, or if you have a weakened immune system. If you are suffering from a virus that damages the upper respiratory tract, then there is also a chance that that can lead to pneumonia as well.
Viral pneumonia is typically not as dangerous as bacterial pneumonia.
Fungi-based pneumonia is one of the rarer types, as you would need to be exposed to airborne fungi in large doses – typically through contaminated water or bird feces, not from a lot of people hanging around together.
If you live outside of an area where fungus thrives, then you likely won’t need to worry about it getting into your system. Instead, take precautions against the other types of pneumonia.
According to the CDC, people can get sick if they:
Keeping yourself in good general health is always an excellent deterrent to getting sick. It’s also very important to finish all antibiotics that have been prescribed for you. Resistant bacteria that are hard to treat develop from overuse of antibiotics or when bacteria are not completely killed after treating with antibiotics.
After recovering from an illness, be extra cautious about pneumonia. Just because you might feel better doesn’t mean that your body is back in peak condition. Those intervals where your system is weakest are when pneumonia strikes. Besides keeping yourself in good general health and making sure that you get regular checkups, there isn’t a lot that you can do to avoid pneumonia.
The best way to avoid pneumonia is by practicing good hygiene:
Having pneumonia is difficult, but it is treatable and curable. You just need to take care of your body, follow the doctor’s orders, and make sure that you get plenty of rest. People get pneumonia all the time – so it’s nothing to stress about unless a medical professional says so.
If you aren’t feeling better or have difficulty breathing, chest pain, or a persistent fever of 102 degrees or higher, it is time to see a doctor.
Seeing an online doctor is quick and easy with our partners at PlushCare. PlushCare’s online doctors provide top-quality service, all via the internet. They can do everything from conduct appointments, order tests, make diagnoses, and write prescriptions.
Once you get a diagnosis, your doctor will work with you to come up with a plan, and they’ll make sure that you are on an antibiotic prescription that’s right for you. Typically doctors will prescribe some kind of antibiotic if they believe bacteria is causing your infection. Doctors at PlushCare can send your prescription to your local pharmacy so that you can get treatment asap.
To make an appointment with a PlushCare doctor, click here.
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