What is the Pathology of Pneumonia?

Sarah Kay Moll

The pathology of pneumonia is caused by an infection in the lungs. This infection can be bacterial, viral, or fungal, and it often starts out as a complication of the flu. People of all ages can get pneumonia, but people older than 65 or those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk.

Ventilator-associated pneumonia is a severe lung infection in a patient who has been on a ventilator for more than 48 hours.
Ventilator-associated pneumonia is a severe lung infection in a patient who has been on a ventilator for more than 48 hours.

Often the symptoms of pneumonia are very similar to typical flu symptoms. The symptoms of pneumonia are fever, cough, chills, muscle pain and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is dangerous when a person is experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, or a fever of more than 101 degrees F (38.3 degrees C). When a case of the flu gets worse over time rather than improving, it may be a symptom of pneumonia.

Patients with pneumonia often experience cough, shortness of breath and chest pain.
Patients with pneumonia often experience cough, shortness of breath and chest pain.

The pathology of pneumonia is sometimes categorized based on the way a person contracted the disease. Some cases of pneumonia are simply results of exposure to infection in everyday life, perhaps at school or work. It is also common to see the pathology of pneumonia take hold during a hospital stay, especially if a person has been on a ventilator. Aspiration, where a person vomits and then inhales some of the material, can also cause pneumonia. Like most infections, a weakened immune system can also increase the risk for this disease.

Pneumonia can be caused by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection of the lungs.
Pneumonia can be caused by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection of the lungs.

To diagnose pneumonia, a doctor will first use a stethoscope and listen to the patient’s lungs for sounds of fluid. A chest X-ray can also reveal a lung infection. Blood or mucus cultures can be tested for certain types of bacteria or viruses that might be the cause behind the illness.

A chest X-ray can be used to diagnose pneumonia in patients.
A chest X-ray can be used to diagnose pneumonia in patients.

If the pathology of pneumonia becomes more severe, it can spread the infection into the bloodstream. Another possible complication is inflammation of the pleura, the membrane that covers the lungs. Acute pulmonary distress syndrome (APDS) is the most serious complication. It causes difficulty breathing, which can deprive the body of needed oxygen.

Children experiencing inflamed nasal and throat passages may be more susceptible to developing a secondary condition, such as pneumonia.
Children experiencing inflamed nasal and throat passages may be more susceptible to developing a secondary condition, such as pneumonia.

When the pathology of pneumonia is bacterial, antibiotics are the most effective treatment. There is no simple treatment for a viral infection, however, and most physicians recommend lots of rest and fluids to let the body’s natural defenses defeat the illness. If pneumonia is serious or if the patient is at high risk for complications, hospitalization may be necessary.

A doctor can detect pneumonia by examining a patient with a stethoscope.
A doctor can detect pneumonia by examining a patient with a stethoscope.

The pathology of pneumonia is varied and often changes. As pneumonia is treated more commonly, the bacteria that cause the infection are evolving to be resistant to common antibiotics. Preventing pneumonia is one way to deal with these highly resistant strains of bacteria.

The presence of pneumonia may cause fever in infants.
The presence of pneumonia may cause fever in infants.

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Discussion Comments

healthy4life

My friend caught aspiration pneumonia by accidentally inhaling some food. Someone told a joke while he was eating, and the food went down the wrong way. He got a bad infection and had to be hospitalized.

OeKc05

All respiratory system diseases are scary to me, because I have a fear of suffocation. Any illness that interferes with my ability to get a good breath makes me panic.

I've never had pneumonia, and I hope to keep it that way. I know that it is contagious, so I avoid anyone who has it.

Also, I have a job working from home, so I'm not exposed to many germs. If I ever do catch pneumonia, though, I know that I will be able to take time off to recover, which is nice.

shell4life

@kylee07drg – Different types of pneumonia cause different kinds of coughs. My grandmother had bronchial pneumonia, and she had no phlegm at all but a persistent dry cough. However, my uncle got bacterial pneumonia, and he was coughing up red and yellow phlegm.

kylee07drg

Pneumonia symptoms are similar to those of bronchitis. I don't know if people with pneumonia cough up phlegm like people with bronchitis do, though.

I've heard some people with pneumonia say it's really hard to get a deep breath, and they have a dry cough. I think this would be harder to deal with than coughing up stuff, because if its productive, you at least know you're getting some of the infected junk out of your body.

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