Pneumonia : Causes, Symptoms, When to Visit the Emergency Room

Pneumonia : Causes, Symptoms, When to Visit the Emergency Room

Pneumonia: Warning Signs of Pneumonia and When to Visit ER

Pneumonia is an inflammation of one or both lungs, typically due to a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. With pneumonia, the tiny air sacs inside the lungs fill with fluid or pus. This can cause symptoms such as coughing, chest pain, and breathing difficulties.

Approximately 1 million adults in the United States are hospitalized each year for pneumonia and 50,000 die from the disease. It is the second most common reason for being admitted to the emergency room -- childbirth is number one. Pneumonia is the most common reason children are admitted to the ER in the United States. Seniors who are hospitalized for pneumonia face a higher risk of death compared to any of the top 10 other reasons for hospitalization.

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an acute inflammation of the lungs, caused by Streptococcus Pneumoniae bacterium. Symptoms include fever, cough with blood-tinged phlegm and difficult breathing.It causes air sacs to become filled with pus or fluid and is accompanied by a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. It can be life-threatening and in many cases, it can be treated with antiviral medications or antibiotics.

Symptoms (Warning Signs) of Pneumonia

Symptoms include the following. You may or may not get all these warning signs before you become sick.

  • Fever – as high as 105 F
  • Cough with bloody, greenish or yellow mucus
  • Chills
  • Tiredness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sharp chest pain especially when you cough or take a deep breath
  • Fever and sweating
  • Lips and fingernails turning blue
  • Confusion especially in the elderly
  • Very fast heartbeat and shortness of breath
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

Pneumonia in Children

In most cases, a child’s immune system will protect them from developing pneumonia. If a child does develop pneumonia, it is usually due to a virus. Below are some of the symptoms you need to watch for in your children if you suspect they may have this lung infection.

  • Cough and sore throat
  • Fever and nasal congestion
  • Diarrhea and lack of appetite
  • Tiredness or lack of energy
  • Sweating, chills and flushed skin
  • Wheezing and difficulty breathing
  • Paleness
  • Being limp or lethargic
  • Crying more than usual
  • Feeding poorly and vomiting
  • Being irritable or restless

What Is Walking Pneumonia

Walking pneumonia is a milder case of pneumonia. People with walking pneumonia may not even know they have pneumonia. Their symptoms may feel more like a mild respiratory infection than pneumonia. However, walking pneumonia may require a longer recovery period.

The symptoms of walking pneumonia can include things like:

  • Mild Fever
  • Dry cough lasting longer than a week
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Reduced appetite

Viruses and bacteria, like Streptococcus pneumoniae or Haemophilus influenzae, often cause pneumonia. However, in walking pneumonia, the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae most commonly causes the condition.

Diagnosing Pneumonia

When you go to the doctor, your medical history is taken into account, including such things as whether you smoke tobacco, if you’ve had either a cold or flu recently, if you’ve come into contact with sick people at home or work, your hobbies and your exposure to pets or other animals.

The doctor will listen to your breathing through a stethoscope, which will reveal any bubbling, wheezing or crackling in the lungs, and may order further tests to help diagnosis. These can include:

  • Chest X-rays
  • Blood tests
  • CT scan
  • Sputum tests
  • Examination of pleural fluids from the lungs, or a pulse oximetry to measure the oxygen levels in the bloodstream

Which tests you need may be determined by your age and risk factors, and if the doctor thinks you may have pneumonia after the preliminary exam.

When to Seek Emergency Room Treatment for Pneumonia

If you suspect that you have the disease, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. The earlier the infection is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. Go to a 24-hour emergency center immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood

If you are experiencing symptoms of pneumonia, visit one of our emergency rooms in Highland Village, Little Elm, Frisco, Hurst, Texoma, Hillcrest, Mansfield, Colleyville, Uptown and the DFW area. Our ER of Texas emergency rooms (ER) are open 24/7 to diagnose and treat most medical emergencies.