There are different types of pneumonia that one can contract. There is viral pneumonia and bacterial pneumonia. Often time pneumonia can be confused with another illness, such as a cold or the flu, and other times the pneumonia can be brought on as a secondary condition by another illness.
One type of pneumonia is caused by an organism called Mycoplasma. This type of pneumonia is very contagious in situations where people are together in small areas. It is easily spread and is commonly found in schools and work environments. The symptoms can mimic those of the flu, but it is very common for the symptoms to be so mild that a person does not feel sick enough to stay in bed and can continue with their daily activities. This type of pneumonia is often referred to as “walking pneumonia.” The dry, long lasting cough is usually the main symptom that will bring someone into the doctor’s office. This type of pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics although it may take some time for the cough to fade. However, there are many cases of mycoplasma that go left untreated and they eventually clear up on their own.
Viral pneumonia is the type of pneumonia caused by a virus. For some people this type of pneumonia will come on gradually and often people that have this type of pneumonia may not have many severe signs of illness. For others, especially those with lowered immune systems, contracting viral pneumonia will have symptoms similar to getting the flu. Symptoms including, headache, fever, muscle aches, fatigue and a dry cough. The cough is usually nonproductive and as the pneumonia progresses, you may find yourself short of breath. Often times this type of viral pneumonia will turn into the second type of pneumonia known as bacterial pneumonia. For viral pneumonia that has not progressed into bacterial pneumonia, the only course of treatment is plenty of fluids and rest. If your symptoms continue to worsen or suddenly take a turn for the worse then it is very possible that you have developed bacterial pneumonia and it is important to see your doctor for treatment.
Bacterial pneumonia can occur alone or it can be brought on by having viral pneumonia or any viral upper respiratory infection. The difference between the viral pneumonia and the bacterial pneumonia is that bacterial pneumonia has a tendency to come on quite suddenly. The symptoms can again be like that of the flu, including high fever, extreme chills, sweating, chest pain, shortness of breath, quickened heart rate, nausea, diarrhea and a cough producing mucus that is yellow or green and often tinged with blood. Symptoms can vary from person to person. Strangely in the case of bacterial pneumonia it is not uncommon for older adults and those with compromised immune systems to show less severe symptoms, including a lowered body temperature instead of a fever. However, with bacterial pneumonia it is very important to seek medical attention in order to clear up the infection. For most people a round of antibiotics will cure the illness quite quickly. Once antibiotics are administered a person can feel much better long before all the medications are finished. In this case it is very important to continue taking the medications until they are gone. Otherwise the infection will come back and it can come back twice as bad.
For people that already have a lung condition such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), chronic bronchitis or tuberculosis, the symptoms may be harder to distinguish but often the severity of the preexisting condition will worsen. Also symptoms such as delirium and confusion may be a warning sign for those that are not showing any other severe symptoms of pneumonia.
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