Pneumonia is an acute infection of one or both lungs. At one time lobar pneumonia was the typical form seen. However, sulfa drugs and antibiotic have been so effective in dealing with eat that this type is rarely seen today – although it still occurs. The exact diagnosis depends on the bacterium isolated, X ray evidence, and the visible symptoms.
The type of pneumonia most common now is virus, or atypical, pneumonia. Despite the name and the belief that the virus is involved, the precise cause is not known. It is this form of bronchopneumonia which is discussed here.
The Symptoms . The sunset is usually slow. There are minor high respiratory symptoms, low-grade temperature, chills and headache. Appetite is poor. The throat may be dry or scratchy. Pain beneath the breast bone is common alone with a cough when the patient breathes deeply. After a few days the dry cough becomes looser, with thick sputum that may be streaked with blood. Temperature can rise as high as 104 degree in the first few days, but the fever usually drops back to normal about the fifth to seventh day.
Convalescence from pneumonia is slow and it may take weeks for a patient to lose his cough and his feeling of weakness. Very often patient has virus pneumonia in a form so mild they do not know they have it. There is no temperature, a mild cough, and some feeling of weakness. The presence of the disease is made known in such cases only when routine chest X rays are taken and the lung infection is disclosed.
Virus pneumonia is not seen often in a severe form, but it can and does attack chronically ill, debilitated patients.
Complication . These are rare. Occidentally the membranes that surround the lungs fill with fluid. And infrequently, the brain and heart became involved.
Prevention . Since the precise cause of this disease is unknown, there is no known method of preventing it. Cold shots and vaccinations are available and are helpful to some, but they are not proven preventives. It can only be suggested that one should avoid exposure to infected individuals, follow a sensible diet, and get sufficient rest.