What is Pneumonia?

Attention has been drawn recently to pneumonia as Hillary Clinton was affected by the illness. We got some facts from our medical team about the condition and here is all you need to know.

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is swelling (inflammation) of the tissue in one or both of the lungs. It’s usually caused by an infection and typically a bacterial infection. As the immune system tries to combat the infection, the airways become inflamed and fill up with fluid. Terms such as bronchopneumonia, lobar pneumonia and double pneumonia are sometimes used but refer to the same condition with the same causes and treatment.

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Hillary Clinton suffered from a mild form pneumonia, referred also as “walking pneumonia”. However, the riskiness of the pathology can differ from person to person and anyone can potentially encounter the infection throughout his life.

Am I at risk?

In most cases, babies, infants and older people are the ones who risk the most i.e. those with a weaker immune system are more likely to be affected by the disease. However, heavy drinkers, smokers, and people with other debilitating conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, HIV and cancer can be subjected to the disease as their immune system is already weakened by their current situation.

In most cases, babies, infants and older people are the ones who risk the most i.e. those with a weaker immune system are more likely to be affected by the disease.

What are the symptoms and how dangerous can it become?

Symptoms of pneumonia might manifest as the flu or chest infection, thus including high temperature, fever, sweating, shivering, cough, difficulty breathing and eventual loss of appetite. Nonetheless, the symptoms of the infection can vary considerably. The moderate form of the disease known as “walking pneumonia” can be so mild that it could be mistaken for a simple cold. That is why it may happen that those affected will feel healthy enough to keep on working and carrying out their daily activities. In such cases, most people will get over pneumonia and return to good health with no particular difficulty. While in other unfortunate situations the patient could be unwell for several days or weeks and will probably face some complications in coming back to normality. In severe cases, depending on the age and overall health of the patient, it can take six months or more to recover and it might lead to death in the worst-case scenario.

What are the common treatments?

The treatments may vary according to the gravity of the condition. In a healthy young person, rest and plenty of water should be enough (plus antibiotics whether it is bacterial or not). Whilst if symptoms get worse the infected person will probably need hospital treatment where they will receive antibiotics and fluids through a drip, and they may even need oxygen to help them breathe.

When to see your GP?

If you are exhibiting symptoms of pneumonia then you should contact your local GP immediately or alternatively book a video consultation with Webdoctor where one of our GP team will look after you. If your symptoms are severe (chest pains, rapid breathing and dizziness etc) then you should seek urgent attention at an A&E immediately.