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Pneumonia and Its Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

A chest infection involving the whole of one lobe of a lung.

Causes of Pneumonia

Pneumonia can be caused by any of the bacteria or viruses that cause milder chest infections. These infections usually cause mild inflammation of both lungs. Pneumonia occurs when the infection is concentrated in one lobe of the lung, which carries a higher risk of complications. Pneumonia is common in the elderly, in patients following operations and in people who are run down for other reasons.

Symptoms of Pneumonia

At first the symptoms of pneumonia are non-specific – a fever, feeling cold and a cough. These symptoms then rapidly worsen with high fever, shivering, a harsh cough and aching over the affected part of the chest. Phlegm may contain blood streaks. In the elderly, pneumonia is often less dramatic. On examination the doctor hears characteristic noises over one section of the lung. Occasionally, a number of germs cause pneumonia in younger people but they do not manifest the
classic symptoms; instead there is just a vague feeling of ill health, sweating and a mild cough. These germs include mycoplasma and legionella.

Treatment of Pneumonia

Most cases respond to high doses of an antibiotic, rest and recuperation. Hospital admission might be needed in severe cases, especially if the individual cannot take antibiotics by mouth and needs a drip. Chest X-rays taken afterwards check for complete recovery of the lung and see if there is any underlying lung problem that allowed pneumonia to set in.

Pneumonia has some possible complications. Often fluid accumulates at the base of one lung, called a pleural effusion, and can take several weeks to go. An abscess may form in the lung, although modern antibiotics have made this a rare event.

Complementary Treatment for Pneumonia

There is no substitute for antibiotics. Chakra balancing reduces pain and loosens sputum. Naturopathy -large dosages of vitamin C can shorten recovery time. The Alexander Technique can help after recovery.

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