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    Facts About Pneumonia

    You probably heard the respiratory infection “pneumonia” being referenced pretty often in the news last month. After Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton fell ill during a 9/11 ceremony, her physician revealed she was diagnosed two days prior with pneumonia.  Clinton stated that she didn’t think her pneumonia was going to be “that big a deal.” The question is: Is it really a big deal? Well, pneumonia is a serious diagnosis and is a major cause of death, especially in hospitalized patients. When it occurs in the normal outpatient setting it is called “community-acquired” pneumonia and is highly treatable if diagnosed early. Below, I want to share with you some key things and basics to know about this condition.
    To doctors, pneumonia means an infection involving one or more lobes of an individual’s lungs. This condition is confirmed by x-ray if suspected by history and examination. Infectious pneumonia leads to the involved lobes of the lung being filled with pus, which can lead to a person having shortness of breath due to low oxygen.  Bacterial pneumonia is associated with moderately high to high fever (shaking chills).  The infection causes the alveoli, the air sacs in the lungs, to inflame and swell.  With this respiratory infection, a person can still function as long at their oxygen levels are not too severely impaired. Low oxygen is incompatible with life and if occurring during pneumonia is an indication for hospitalization and oxygen support. If untreated, the infection can become serious or fatal by leading to full lung failure or blood born infection which leads to a form of shock known as sepsis.
    This illness is often caused by viruses and bacteria, and less often caused by fungi or parasites. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), common causes for this illness are influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus).  Toxic fume exposure such as concentrated bleach, ammonia or the combination causes a painful chest reaction called pneumonitis.
    Symptoms of pneumonia include: cough (sometimes accompanied by green/yellow/bloody mucus), chills, fever, shortness of breath, sharp/stabbing chest pain (pleurisy), headache, loss of appetite, fatigue, and clammy skin.
    Anyone can get pneumonia but older people, children, and people with chronic diseases are most at risk. A weakened immune system increases the chances of developing this illness. Pneumonia often follows other respiratory infections, so it is in a person’s best interest to take care of themselves, and pay attention and follow up with a doctor when any symptoms linger more than a few days.
    The treatment depends upon the cause. With the exception of Influenza, viral infections do not have a treatment. Usually treated by patients resting at home, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking over the counter symptom, fever-reducing and pain medicines. For pneumonia causes caused by bacteria, treatment includes antibiotics such as azithromycin, amoxicillin, and erythromycin.
    There are vaccines available for the common forms of pneumonia, but it doesn’t protect against all strains of this illness. Other ways to prevent the contraction of this illness include: quarantining contagious patients, washing hands often, maintaining good hygiene, stopping smoking, avoiding sick people, getting the flu vaccine, regular exercise, and a healthy diet.
    Pneumonia can occur any time of year. If you think you may be at high risk of contracting this illness or feel like you may have it now, contact Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness in Fort Myers. Dr. Kordonowy can see you right away and will examine you to determine the best plan for you based on your symptoms or concerns. To book an appointment, call 239-362-3005, ext. 200 or click here for more information.
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    October 26, 2016
    Dr. Raymond Kordonowy

    About Dr. Raymond Kordonowy

    Private Practice Medicine. President of IPALC. Delegate for the FMA,. Member of the National Lipid Association, and Florida Lipid foundation. I have provided CME lectures in the area of cholesterol disorders. Areas of interest : General Internal Medicine are advanced lipid testing/Lipidology, difficult to manage lipid cases, obesity, diet and nutritional assessment, wellness. I am married to Margaret and our two grown boys are Nicholas and Matthew. Hobbies mostly reading, listening to music economics, jogging, bad mandolin playing and upland bird hunting.

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