Pneumonia - Describe Your Experience

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How do people "catch pneumonia"?

Some cases of pneumonia are contracted by breathing in small droplets that contain the organisms that can cause pneumonia. These droplets get into the air when a person infected with these germs coughs or sneezes. In other cases, pneumonia is caused when bacteria or viruses that are normally present in the mouth, throat, or nose inadvertently enter the lung. During sleep, it is quite common for people to aspirate secretions from the mouth, throat, or nose. Normally, the body's reflex response (coughing back up the secretions) and their immune system will prevent the aspirated organisms from causing pneumonia. However, if a person is in a weakened condition from another illness, a severe pneumonia can develop. People with recent viral infections, lung disease, heart disease, and swallowing problems, as well as alcoholics, drug users, and those who have suffered a stroke or seizure are at higher risk for developing pneumonia than the general population. As we age, our swallowing mechanism can become impaired as does our immune system. These factors, along with some of the negative side effects of medications, increase the risk for pneumonia in the elderly.

Once organisms enter the lungs, they usually settle in the air sacs and passages of the lung where they rapidly grow in number. This area of the lung then becomes filled with fluid and pus (the body's inflammatory cells) as the body attempts to fight off the infection.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: shesanurse, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 29

A little over a month ago I had a bad cold with severe cough which lingered. I still have the occasional cough and continue to feel quite fatigued every day. I also have pain in my chest which feels like it is going into my back. I wonder if this could this be an atypical pneumonia. I have no fever, cough is dry and nonproductive.

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Published: May 21

I had a severe chest pain one day at work with lightheadedness and tingling in fingers. I had had a bad cold about two weeks earlier, but it had cleared up. The pain lasted about 15 minutes then subsided. I went home, ate a normal supper, took a hot bath and went to bed. Within one hour I was chilling all over my body and became extremely nauseous. I had no clue what was wrong and just endured all of this with a fever. I did not have a thermometer, but knew I was very hot. In the early morning we went to a walk in clinic. They thought I might be having a heart attack, due to the fact I am 53, a woman, and had had the chest pain, and had really no sign of a cough or anything. After blood tests and x-rays, however, it was determined I had pneumonia. They gave me intravenous IV antibiotics in the hospital and then let me go home with another antibiotic prescription. I go back to doctor in two weeks.

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