The doctor should review the patient’s history and do a physical exam, including listening to the lungs.
If pneumonia is suspected, the doctor usually does the following tests:
Blood tests are used to confirm infection and determine the type of germ causing the infection. However, accurate identification is not always possible. Elevated white blood cells in the general blood test and C-reactive protein in the biochemical analysis indirectly indicate the presence of bacterial inflammation in the body.
Chest X-ray. This allows the doctor to determine the localization of inflammation in the lungs.
Pulse oximetry – Measurement of oxygen levels in the blood. Pneumonia interferes with gas exchange in the lungs.
Sputum analysis. A sample of lung secretions (sputum) is taken after a deep cough and analyzed to help pinpoint the infectious agent.
Your doctor may order additional tests if the patient is older than 65, is in the hospital, or has serious symptoms or health problems. These may include:
Computed tomography. A layer-by-layer examination of the lung tissue to get a more detailed picture of the lungs.
Pleural cavity puncture. If fluid is detected in the pleural cavity, it is extracted by inserting a needle between the ribs into the pleural cavity, the resulting fluid is examined for cellular composition and seeded on special media, trying to identify the pathogen.
Treatment of pneumonia
Treatment of pneumonia is aimed at suppressing the infection and preventing complications. People with community-acquired pneumonia can usually be treated at home with medication. Most symptoms disappear after a few days or weeks, but tiredness can last for a month or more.
Specific treatments depend on the type of causative agent and the severity of the pneumonia, the patient’s age and general health. Options include:
Antibiotics. These medications are used to treat bacterial pneumonia. A broad-spectrum antibiotic is usually prescribed before the results of a microbiological examination. It may take time to determine the type of bacteria causing the pneumonia and choose the appropriate antibiotic to treat. If the patient’s condition does not improve, usually within 2-3 days, a change of antibiotic is made.
Cough medicines. Since coughing helps to remove phlegm from the lungs, you should not get rid of the cough completely. Also, you should know that very little research has been done on the effectiveness of over-the-counter cough medicines. If you decide to take a cough medicine, use the lowest possible dose that will help you rest. Separately, we should mention expectorants that facilitate the expectoration of sputum and do not inhibit the cough reflex.
Antipyretics. You can take them as needed to reduce fever and chest discomfort with pleural pain. These include drugs such as paracetamol, aspirin, Ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatory drugs.
Hospitalization for pneumonia
Hospitalization may be needed if:
- The patient is older than 65 years of age
- Decreased kidney function (little urine)
- Systolic blood pressure is below 90
- Diastolic blood pressure 60 mm or lower
- Rapid breathing (30 or more breaths per minute)
- There are signs of impaired consciousness
- Body temperature is below normal
- Resting pulse below 50 or above 100
Hospitalization is either in therapeutic wards or intensive care units if correction of vital functions is necessary.
Children may be hospitalized if:
- They are younger than 2 months of age
- They are lethargic or excessively sleepy
- They have breathing problems
- They have low blood oxygen levels
- They seem dehydrated
Lifestyle and home remedies
These tips will help you recover faster and reduce the risk of complications:
Take more time off to rest. Don’t go back to school or work until your temperature is normal and you stop coughing up sputum. Be careful, even when you begin to feel better: because pneumonia can recur, it is best not to return to your daily work until you are fully recovered. Consult your doctor in all actions.
Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
Take medication, as prescribed by your doctor. Until you are fully recovered.
Preparing for a doctor’s visit
Start by visiting your general practitioner or calling the emergency room. These professionals may refer you to an infectious disease specialist or pulmonologist, if necessary.
Here’s some information to help you prepare for your appointment and know what to expect.
What you can do:
- Keep a record of any symptoms, including your fever
- Record characteristics of your health, including recent hospitalizations
- Write down key personal information, including information about radiation exposure, exposure to chemicals or toxins, or recent travel
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins, and supplements you take, especially antibiotics, as these can lead to drug-resistant pneumonia
- Take a family member or friend with you, if possible
- Write down questions to ask the doctor
Here are some basic questions to ask your doctor:
- What is likely causing my symptoms?
- What tests I need?
- What treatment you recommend?
- Do I need to be hospitalized??
- Do I have other health problems. How will my pneumonia affect them??
- Are there any restrictions??
- Feel free to ask any other questions.
Be prepared to answer any questions your doctor may ask: