World Pneumonia Day happened on the 12th of November and aims to raise global awareness of pneumonia. So, what makes pneumonia so special, you ask? Well, pneumonia is both common and serious accounting for a staggering number of hospital admissions in South Africa. Without proper treatment, pneumonia can also be fatal. This is an illness you’ll want to get treated as early as possible.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi with the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, being one of the commonest causes. The lungs function much like a sponge, expanding and contracting as you inhale and exhale. Air is moved in and out of your lungs in this way, enabling you to get all the oxygen you need. When you have pneumonia, the lungs (and the sponge-like tissue inside them) become full of pus and fluid, making inhaling air difficult and preventing oxygen from coming in properly. This can make a person feel short of breath and they may breathe faster to try and get more air in. Other symptoms include cough and fever. Pneumonia can be mistaken for flu, but if your symptoms do not go away or worsen, you could well have pneumonia.
If you suspect that you have pneumonia, see a doctor right away. Depending on the type of infection, you may be given antibiotics or antifungal medication. This will help the body get rid of the infection, but as this does not happen immediately, people are usually also given medications to reduce fever and pain. Cough medicines can be used to help ease the cough but these should be taken with caution, and in as small a dose as possible, because coughing up pus is part of your body’s way of getting the infection out of your lungs.
Hospitalisation may be necessary for severe infections, infections in infants, people over 65 years and people with other serious health problems such as HIV. However, for most people, once you have your treatment, the usual tricks of rest (this would be a good time to watch that series your friend has been telling you about), fluids and a healthy diet will have you on the road to recovery in no time.
In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, MediHub cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.