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Pneumonia is an inflammatory disease of the lungs. It is an infection that can be caused by bacteria or viruses. Pneumonia causes the alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs to fill with fluid which reduces the amount of oxygen that can be transferred to the blood, making breathing difficult. It can occur at any age however is most common in babies, young children and the elderly.      



Symptoms depend on the type and cause of pneumonia. The onset of the illness usually occurs after a cold which can allow the germs to enter into the alveoli. The most common signs are usually:  

  • Coughing,  
  • Shortness of breath,  
  • Chest pain,  
  • Fever,  
  • Headache,  
  • Generally feeling unwell.      


It is important to see your health care professional as quickly as possible as early treatment is most effective.      



Treatment of pneumonia will vary depending on age and severity of the illness. In a healthy adult, your immune system is usually able to destroy the bacteria or virus, and recovery usually occurs within a week.  Get plenty of rest, try to sit up instead of lying down and drink plenty of fluids to thin the mucous and minimise dehydration. Young children and the elderly whose immune system may not be functioning optimally may require hospitalisation. Bacterial pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics however viral pneumonia can not. Pain relief and oxygen therapy may also be necessary to reduce chest pain and fever and to assist breathing.      



The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.  




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