Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs. It is caused by bacteria or viruses that usually enter the body as a person breathes. In some cases, people can develop a particularly severe form of pneumonia after spending time in a hospital or nursing home. People who have recently been ill with the flu or a cold are more vulnerable to pneumonia due to the fact that their immune systems have been compromised. It is important to understand that pneumonia is different for everyone and that a number of factors can influence a person’s experience of pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia usually comes on quickly, while pneumonia that is caused by viruses may develop very slowly over time. Many patients fail to recognize the difference between a minor cough or cold and pneumonia, especially if symptoms increase in severity over a period of time.
One of the most common symptoms associated with pneumonia is a persistent and painful cough. It is common to cough up mucus, and that mucus may be green in color or contain visible blood. The more a patient coughs, the more painful the cough will become. In addition, many people develop significant chest pain, which gets worse during coughing spells or when taking deep breaths. Some will have nausea and encounter trouble keeping food or fluids down. Others will have chills and uncontrollable shaking. Each individual is different, but a combination of these symptoms is usually enough to bring someone in for urgent care medical treatment.
When a patient seeks urgent care treatment for pneumonia, a number of options are available. In some cases, IV antibiotics are administered. For patients who have become dehydrated as their illness progressed, intravenous antibiotics also have the added benefit of rehydrating the patient. Those who have accumulated mucus within their lungs might be treated with respiratory therapy. These procedures work to move mucus out of the lungs and could include postural drainage or medically-directed deep breathing exercises.
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