Pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs that can be caused by bacteria. The air sacs in the lungs are filled with pus and when the infection is severe, oxygen has trouble reaching the blood. More than half of the cases of pneumonia are caused by bacteria. Other causes include viruses, mycoplasma and others (parasites and fungi).
Do patients with pneumonia need to be hospitalised?
Only about 15% of patients with pneumonia require hospitalization. Elderly patients, those with underlying serious illnesses and those who have serious infection may require hospitalization. Younger and relatively fit patients with 'mild' disease may be treated on an outpatient basis.
Can one die of pneumonia?
Yes. Until 1936, before the advent of antibiotics, pneumonia was the leading cause of death in the United States. Despite modern antibiotic therapy pneumonia remains a leading cause of death worldwide.
Is it possible to prevent pneumonia?
The bacteria known as pneumococcus is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in the community. A vaccine is available against pneumococcal blood infection and this is usually given to people at high risk of getting the disease e.g. patients with chronic illnesses such as chronic lung disease, heart disease, kidney disease, or diabetes; patients who are recovering from severe illness, who are in nursing homes, and the elderly. The vaccine is generally safe and effective and is usually given once.
American Lung Association: http://www.lungusa.org/The Ontario Lung Association: http://www.on.lung.ca/
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