The Signs & Symptoms of Acute Pneumonia

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Pneumonia is an inflammatory reaction in lung tissue that is normally caused by an infection. Pneumonia may also be caused by chemicals, aspiration or radiation therapy. Acute pneumonia is a short-lived disease process, while chronic case pneumonia is a disease that someone cannot recover from easily. The signs and symptoms of pneumonia can vary between individuals depending on the type of pneumonia and any underlying conditions in the individual. Bacterial pneumonia is the most common form of pneumonia and is most prevalent in the winter and spring seasons.

Initial Symptoms

Pneumonia typically starts with a sudden start of chills and a fast-rising fever. Stabbing chest pain becomes worse through breathing and coughing. The individual feels very ill and takes an increased number of breaths per minute. Many times the abdominal muscles will be used to help breathe easier. Flaring of the nostrils and grunting may occur with the difficulty breathing.

Atypical Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of pneumonia can vary depending on the bacteria causing the infection. Many individuals have flu symptoms or an upper respiratory infection before developing pneumonia. In cases like that, the symptoms of pneumonia come on gradually and are not as severe. The symptoms will typically be a headache, a low grade fever, pain in the lungs and a sore throat.

Cardiac Symptoms

When pneumonia is occurring in the lungs, some cardiac symptoms appear. There is usually an increase in the heart rate. A rapid and bounding pulse is typical in a person suffering from pneumonia. If there is a low pulse rate with the fever, a viral form of pneumonia is suspected.

Skin Symptoms

In many individuals with pneumonia, the cheeks will appear flushed and the lips and nail beds will appear blue. The skin is clammy because the individual will sweat profusely. The changes in skin coloring occur because of the impaired oxygen exchange in the lung tissues.

Additional Symptoms

Individuals with an underlying condition or weakened immune system may have fewer signs and symptoms of pneumonia. This makes diagnosis more difficult for the people who need fast treatment. Individuals who have cancer or are HIV positive fall into this category.

Pneumonia in the Elderly

Like immunosuppressed individuals, the elderly may have few symptoms to signify that they have pneumonia. A change in the color of sputum is often the only sign of a lung infection. Many times, elderly lungs will be severely compromised with other conditions and this also makes it difficult to detect the pneumonia infections.

Considerations

The color of sputum is not a reliable indicator of a pneumonia infection. A change in sputum can occur with another respiratory infection. Also the color of sputum can vary depending on the organism causing the pneumonia.

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